Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber
Egg-sized hail stones pummel the Bo-Langkloof’s apple orchards

“The hail was like a machine gun”

"Feared by most farmers" reads the message accompanying a photo of a hail stone that fills a hand, taken on Monday late afternoon in the Bo-Langkloof, west of the Langkloof proper, where mostly pomefruit is grown, along with some stonefruit, figs and pomegranates.

Dominique van Reenen of the sheep farm Ganzekraal says Monday afternoon's hail torrent was like nothing she has ever experienced.

"The hail stones were almost as large as tennis balls. Our cars are dented and their windows are smashed. And it all happened within ten minutes," she recounts. Their animals were unharmed but soft crops like wine grapes and apples in their district could not escape damage.

No damage to Greater Langkloof apples
A technical advisor to a large pomefruit grower with various fruit farms both in the Bo-Langkloof and in the Langkloof says, based on the information he has received so far, damage was anything from 30% upwards.

He points out that in the Greater Langkloof, from Avontuur eastwards where the pear harvest is mostly done and the bulk of the apple harvest still lies ahead, no hail damage was reported.

Early indications are that, similar to pears, the Langkloof apple crop could be lighter than last year. Galas and early Grannies are almost fully picked, leaving the Goldens, red apples and Kanzis to be harvested now.

"In Eseljagrivier the damage to apple orchards is significant. From what I've heard between Noll and Avontuur it's reckoned to be between 35% and 60%."

He sighs that hail is, alas, one of the things for which the Langkloof is known.

"This is a difficult time of the year when we're apprehensive about hail day after day. You remain worried."

Last summer the Greater Langkloof lost a sizeable portion of its crop to hail.

Remarkable intensity to the storm
Van Reenen remarks that the storm gathered exceptionally quickly on Monday afternoon.

"There were dark clouds but really nothing that looked so bad and then suddenly there was one hard stone and two hard stones and then it was like a machine gun."

She observes that in the Bo-Langkloof – an area stretching roughly from Herold to Avontuur – hail storms are usually fairly mild and hail stones certainly much smaller than those that pelted down on Monday. At the time, a gentle rain covered the land towards De Rust and Oudtshoorn.

"I've never experienced a hail storm like this and farmers around Uniondale say they can't remember when last hail like this fell anywhere in the area. It was a freak of nature for us."