AU: Farmers still measuring hailstorm damage

Farmers across the Lismore area are still trying to measure the extent of the damage to their crops after the hailstorm that hit the area in the evening of Sunday, October 14. According to a spokesperson from the Department of Primary Industries, damage occurred on stone fruit, blueberries, banana, other tree crops and vegetables located between Bora Ridge to the South, Whian Whian to the North, Lismore to the West and Wollongbar to the East. "Reports of crop damage ranged up to 60 percent in some affected orchards. Fruit exposed has been dented by the hail with damage ranging from slight dents to split skin".

"Stone fruit trees that are being harvested at this time under the netting were also damaged, with fruit on the ground accounting for about half of some crops and the branches sustaining bark injuries," the spokesperson said. Damage will become more apparent as fruit matures. Hail netting was also extensively damaged in some areas, mainly due to the sheer weight of the volume of hail involved. At least 12 hectares of nets were damaged and in most cases beyond repair. Banana fruit within bags were also damaged in farms where bags were covering large mature bunches.

In the case of macadamias crops, which are currently at match head size, the DPI said the damage to nuts is uncertain at the moment but should be easier to judge as the nuts mature. Blueberries are in harvest at this time and the hail has caused "significant damage to saleable fruit, which has been knocked onto the ground," the DPI said. Blue Mountain Orchards Sales and Marketing Manager, Natalie Bell, said they lost an estimated 30% of their marketable crop in Alstonville. Ms Bell estimated the amount of fruit lost at between 15 to 18 tons. "We hope we don't have another storm like that again, we are trying to save as much of our crop as we can," Ms Bell said.


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