More than 2,400 hectares of fruit trees were affected by a storm of rain and hail that hit much of the Alto Valle on Wednesday. There are still no accurate records of the degree of damage to the fruit, but producers can see the marks left by the storm in part of the future harvest of apples, peaches and pears.
The area that suffered the most damage was the area located between Guerrico and Roca. The phenomenon also affected in Villa Regina, where the storm was very long, but the hail was smaller. In Roca, the hailstones were larger than in Regina, where there size was compared to grains of coarse salt.
The skins of the apples and pears in Roca and surrounding areas were bruised and had cuts. The storm mainly hit the area of Guerrico, and producers are evaluating the area of Paso Córdoba, east of Provincial Route 6. The Chamber of Producers from Roca estimated damages of up to 50% in some farms.
The president of the Chamber, Jose Alberto Garcia, led a visit to the farms located north and south of National Route 22 from the area east of Guerrico. "The hail was not very big. It had 8 to 12 millimeters in diameter, but there was quite a lot of it. It affected 40% of the apples and 30% of the pears," Garcia said, noting that it hadn't knocked much fruit to the floor.
According to estimates, the hail affected some 2,000 hectares and some 60 producers who have their farms there.
"The small damage to apples can be covered by the fruit's color but they will leave a mark in the pears, which will become a second category product," he said.
The hail also affected Regina. The head of the local Chamber, which runs from Godoy to Valle Azul, Hugo Gagliano, estimated that the damage could cover an area of 300 or 400 hectares and that, despite having visited several farms to see how the rains had affected the fruits, producers will only find out the real consequences of the storm as days go by.
He said that several producers with bags of damaged fruit had gone to the Chamber. Some producers lost a lot, but most of the hail hit the fruit without knocking it to the floor. That will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in quality that can affect prices, but the fruit will serve for the internal market."
"The hail was small, about the size of grains of salt, and there was lots of water. It did less damage where there was a lot of water, but the most affected fields were the ones where there was more hail than rain," he said. He also stated that they were surprised with the duration of the storm, which was 15 minutes long but very intense, as well as with the amount of blows to each fruit. "There are apples where we could see 16 impacts. That fruit loses quality. Peaches might conceal the harm, but I have no doubt that the fruit was damaged," he said.