High prices, workers let go following Vic hail storms

While supply will not be impacted for Victoria or Australia as a whole, the price for quality stonefruit will be high on the wholesale and consumer markets, to reflect damage done to crops ready to be harvested. “The price will be high, but we’re also working very closely with bodies such as Apples and Pears Australia Limited to develop the Hailstorm Heroes campaign, to sell what fruit we can save that’s been affected by the hailstorms,” said Fruit Growers Victoria Industry Development Officer Petar Bursac. “There was a similar campaign in the US when their crops were affected by weather events like this and I believe that was quite successful.”

At least 1,500 hectares of orchard land has been hit by two severe hail events, one in late October, the second on November 12. Industry says the job now is to secure funding for hail netting, and ensure that remaining fruits are picked from trees in order to maintain health condition of plants for next year and prevent infestation of pests on damaged fruits. “The growers I’m speaking to are looking for government subsidy for hailnets, which can cost up to $40,000-$50,000 per hectare,” said Mr Bursac. “They are expected to last 20 years though, and so far none have told me that they will be leaving their orchards.”

The November hailstorm hit exactly the same area, Victoria's Mallee twice in a month. The orchard owners have been involved in conversations with authorities, according to Mr Bursac. Some have lost multiple orchard crops, and all had spent money thinning trees following the first storm, as well as disposing of fruit that was too damaged to sell. “A lot have had to let workers go because they have to focus on maintaining the orchards and the condition of remaining trees.” 

“I’m still conducting assessments, and this is the second hailstorm to hit all the same orchards that were hit one month ago, so profit for POME fruit and stonefruit will be affected next year,” Mr Bursac said. “At least 50-60% of people’s orchards have been lost in the affected area. POME fruit will be more affected next year, but the price for fresh stonefruit will be affected this year.”

For more information

Petar Bursac, Industry Development Officer
Fruit Growers Victoria
Phone: +61400795539

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