Australian orchard owner fears for family farm as flood waters rise

SACKVILLE, Australia (Reuters) - At Ken Anderson’s orchard near the banks of the Hawkesbury River in the outer Sydney suburb of Sackville, another few inches of flood water could spell the end for much of this season’s orange and mandarin harvest - and possibly the trees as well.

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As torrential rains pummel Australia’s east, causing the worst floods in half a century, those living near major river systems are suffering the most, with homes, roads and livestock being washed away.

The lower-lying areas are most at risk, Anderson told Reuters at his orchard, which he said had been in the family for 170 years.

“I’ll lose a fair bit, because if the water stays on there too much, the fruit will just drop,” said Anderson, who at 66 is the fourth generation of his family to run the property.

In parts of the orchard, only the top branches of the fruit trees were visible above the water.

“Down in the other section over there, it takes a while for the water to come off so I’ll end up losing the fruit there and probably might lose the trees too,” added Anderson stoically, holding a blue-and-yellow striped umbrella against the pouring rain.

In the state of New South Wales, where the flooding is most severe, a deluge is forecast overnight on Tuesday in some areas despite clearer weather in Sydney.

While damage to properties and livelihoods is widespread, there have been no recorded fatalities from the floods.

Anderson said it had been a difficult few days, working non-stop for the past couple of nights.

“I’m all over it now,” said the farmer with a slight chuckle. “I’m coming down with a cold, I think actually, I’ve been wet a few days.”

Reporting by Jill Gralow; Writing by Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Karishma Singh