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Adelaide Hills growers 'depressed' after hail storm damages fruit crops

By Caroline Winter, Monday October 30, 2017 - 21:33 EDT
ABC licensed image
Apple growers have reported widespread damage following a violent hail storm in the Adelaide Hills. - ABC licensed

Apple, pear and cherry crops in the Adelaide Hills have been badly damaged by a hail storm, causing growers plenty of concern for the upcoming season.

Early reports show that almost all apple and pear growers have been hit, with possibly 90 per cent of the major production area suffering from dinted fruit.

This season's cherries, which are almost ready for harvest, may also have been affected, and will be assessed for damage.

Head of the state's Apple and Pear Growers Association, Susie Green, said growers had been looking forward to a good season.

"It only takes one little event like this to throw a spanner in the works and its really now a matter of working out what is there out on the trees and how best to salvage the crops that's left," Ms Green said.

"Often we see hail come through in fairly narrow bands whereas this seems to have caught most of our production area within the hills."

Paul James from the Lenswood Co-op, an apple cooperative involved 30 growers over 1,500 hectares of land, said he had been meeting growers and assessing the damage.

He said while it was too soon to put a dollar figure on it, the storms have been devastating.

"I've got a few very depressed growers that's for sure. Definitely not what they needed," Mr James said.

"I'm seeing a lot of young fruit that were just in the early stages of the crop, a lot of fruit's been damaged with little what we call salt and pepper hail marks.

"There's not a lot of cut damage, but there's enough there to give us some very serious concerns."

Adelaide Hills cherry grower Nick Noski said his whole 1,400-tree orchard was hit in the storm.



He said while the fruit would still taste fine, it had been scarred.

"The hail leaves a small mark on the fruit, it looks like a spot of black pepper on the fruit skin and that creates a small scar as the fruit grows.

"Hopefully the fruit is mature enough that the scar is not evident."

If not, Mr Noski said the damage could affect exports.

"The Asian market really, really wants perfect pieces of fruit. So any even very, very minor blemish really sort of knocks that piece of fruit out."


- ABC

© ABC 2017

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