Hail in Israel causes severe damage to fruit industry

A severe storm system hit Israel last week, causing extensive damages to a number of fresh produce industries. The storm started early in the week with strong rains and developed to feature intense winds and local hail events. The brunt of the storm was felt in the northern and central regions of the country.

According to early reports, more than 300 separate agricultural operations were damaged by the storm; roughly half of those were fresh vegetables operations such as cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and eggplant.

The most severe damages however were felt in the fresh fruit industries which were either in the process of picking their crops or gearing up to do so.

The Gilboa region in the northern part of Israel was one of the areas struck by local hail showers. A grower from the region who grows several varieties of citrus said that in some orchards the crop is unsalvageable.

“One of our orchards that was hit with hail was an Orr clementine orchard which was a few days from being picked” he said. “The hail was quite large and knocked most of the fruit off the trees.”

According to him the crop in that particular orchard is a “total loss”, while the damages in neighbouring orchards will have to be assessed further.

This situation of the storm hitting orchards with ripened fruits was the main cause for damage said Oron Ziv of BeFresh Europe, a fresh produce exporter who works extensively in the region.

“The most damage was felt in the avocado, persimmon, and citrus industries” he said, “but not every region was hit, the severe damages were quite isolated.”

With the rains and winds continuing over the previous few days, the full scope of the consequences is yet to be fully known. Preliminary estimates by Kanat, the insurance fund for natural risks in agriculture of Israel, indicate the damages already exceed 10 million shekels, and could very well increase.

Editor: Saar Ziv

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