Last Saturday, a stormy day with hail and heavy rain has hit Lower Saxony. It also reached the Altes Land. The consequences are only gradually visible at the fruit farms. Many of the still small fruits were literally split by the hailstones, reports NDR 1 Niedersachsen. In mild cases, the apples suffered only brown spots or dents.
Businesses affected to different degrees
The storm front has hit the farmers in different degrees. For some farms, crop failure is "a disaster," Jens Stechmann from Lühe, chairman of the Bundesfachgruppe Obstbau, told NDR 1 Niedersachsen.
North of the apple stronghold Jork, in the heart of the Altes Land so far no major damages to the orchards are reported. "Fortunately, nothing happened to us in the immediate vicinity and so far no damage has been recorded," says Frank Suhr of the eponymous fruit farm based in Oederquart, also south, in the direction of Hamburg some towns - such as Nottensdorf are not affected Luck of damage remained spared," reports a resident fruit merchant/grower.
Damage in the millions?
Matthias Görgens from the Obstbauversuchsanstalt in Jork does not want to commit himself to the exact extent of the damage. But he expects damages in the millions. 1,800 of the 9,000 hectares of apple acreage could be affected in the Altes Land. The damage to the apples grows with them: In the end, the defective goods end up in the cider mill or are processed into applesauce - but then, producers do not receive the prices that first-class merchandise bring.
In the case of soft fruit, the long-term effects are most severe, even in short showers. The rainfall simply causes fungi to grow on the tree, which could endanger next year's crop. In the short term, the hail damage is already having an impact on marketing - especially regarding volumes and prices. According to a medium-sized producer and wholesaler, "club apples and Boskoop are rarely offered on the market as Class II, and summer apples like Delbarestivale are especially susceptible to hail damage."
Hail nets in the orchard
In recent years, there has been more frequent rainfall and corresponding damage to the orchards in the Altes Land. Producers therefore hope for a meaningful solution for all involved. "I said a few years ago: Instead of further promotion of insurance, one should invest in modern hail protection measures."
No grants for crop failure insurance
The 565 companies on the Lower Elbe could insure themselves against hail damage. But they would have to pay the cost out of their own pocket. This not so in more than half of the other EU states: there, there are state subsidies for crop failure insurance.