A month after a freak hailstorm that ripped through South Australia's Riverland, farmers are now dealing with the risk of a fruit fly outbreak due to the abundance of damaged fruit.
Instead of harvesting his eight-hectare apricot farm, Greg Pilgrim has been shaking scarred fruit from his trees and mulching the ruined produce. "There's 20 tonnes of fruit on the ground and at $3 a kilo, it soon adds up," he said. "It's pretty upsetting but I can't put it back. [Hail] leaves a big hole or a scar, and it becomes unsaleable."
In less than half an hour, the November 4 hail storm that hit Barmera, Monash, Glossop, and parts of Renmark shredded grape vines and potholed stone fruit, citrus, and nut crops.
"I was at the house talking to somebody and couldn't even hear the telephone...it was on the roof and then it got bigger and bigger," Pilgrim said. "I talked to the next door neighbour and he reckoned 90 to 100 per cent [of crop was damaged]; then I got PIRSA to come out and they agreed."
Around 130 growers were affected, with SA State Government figures estimating the value of crop losses to be over $23 million.