AU: Work underway to assess total cost of Adelaide's major storm on apple and pear growers

The Apple and Pear Growers Association of South Australia says the industry is doing what it can to support apple and pear growers in the Adelaide Hills get back on their feet, after last week’s storms.

For the second year in a row, the state was left counting the cost after another major storm. The region experienced gale-force winds that left tens of thousands of properties without power, in addition to heavy rain and hail. APGASA Chief Executive Susie Green says the damage for growers appears to be widespread.

"It's still early days and we still have to get out and do some formal assessment later this week and early next week," she said. "But initial indications are that there has been a widespread impact across almost all the apple growing region in the Adelaide Hills. It's a little bit different to the year before, in terms of some regions that have been probably worse impacted than last year, and others slightly better. So, we won't know the full picture until we do the full assessment. But unfortunately, it is looking very similar to last year in terms of scale."

South Australia produces about 10 per cent of the national apple crop, and the Adelaide Hills grows about 80 per cent of the state's production.

"The fruit is quite young, so this is next year's crop that is being impacted," Ms Green said. "They are just at the fruitlet size, so about the size of a 20-cent piece, I guess. Obviously, this is devastating for the growers, and we are doing what we can to work through this situation with them and understand what their needs are and try and get as much support as we can for them at this difficult time."

There are also pears growing in the region, and APGASA says that the fruit fared slightly better than apples. While there is some hail damage to pears, it seems to have been isolated to only a few small pockets. Ms Green says a main focus now is working out how much of the fruit is sellable.

"This is all information that we will need to work through as we complete our assessments," she said. "There are definitely pockets where the damage is widespread, and others not so bad. We need to get a much better handle on how much of the crop will be saleable, so we can work through the logistics. We do have plenty of apples grown in Australia, so the effects on consumer would be minimal."

However, she is encouraging consumers to continue supporting the local apple growers, and being aware that damaged apples that are on the market are still good for consumption.

"We have had some fantastic support from the South Australian consumers this year in getting behind us, and looking past a few blemishes from hail marks," Ms Green said. "So, we are really hopeful that the South Australian public can get behind us, because the fruit is still perfectly good to eat. We are just hopeful that people can get behinds us once again."

While controlling the weather is impossible, growers are calling for help with installing hail netting that could prevent such damage happening in the future.

"The areas that had hail netting in place certainly had a better outcome for the growers," Ms Green said. "So, we really need to get as much support as we can to make sure that there is hail netting across our orchards."

For more information
Susie Green
Apple & Pear Growers Association
of South Australia
Phone: + 61 8 8389 8453

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