Flash hailstorm damages apple crops but rain brings hope for farmers

A flash hailstorm damaged apple crops around Orange but the associated rainfall has brought hope for farmers in the region.

Orchardist Peter West said the hailstorm on Monday afternoon lasted only two and a half minutes but it damaged unnetted apples in the middle of the harvest.

“Considering the amount that fell we got away quite lightly,” he said.

“It doesn’t appear to have done that much damage.

“It was reasonably soft.”

He said unnetted fruit was hit worst.

“The netted was fine,” he said.

Mr West said they had picked all the gala apples at his Balmoral property on Canobolas Road, now several weeks into the 2018 harvest.

“We’re a third of the way through,” he said.

Down the road Bernard Hall’s crop at his property Caernarvon also copped the hail.

He said most of his crop was under netting but they had to remove netting just before picking which had exposed fruit to the hailstorm.

“You have to take the nets off a day early for the colouring and for the pickers to pick it,” he said.

“Most of ours is all under netting.

“It wasn’t bad, bad.

“It is always a bit of a concern.”

While the hail damaged the crops the associated rains have brought some relief for famers across the region.

A Local Land Services [LLS] statement said there had now been two significant falls in the region, but Orange had the least.

It said the Bureau of Meteorology had recorded totals of 90 millimetres at Lithgow, 80 millimetres at Mudges, 50 millimetres at Bathurst and Cowra, 40 millimetres at Oberon but only 35 millimetres at Orange.

LLS pasture specialist Clare Edwards said farmers were now seeking advice about pasture growth.

“While the falls have been patchy, some landholders have had very good rain and soil temperatures are still warm enough to germinate both desirable plant species and weeds,” she said.

“We’re already seeing some summer grasses such as liverseed and barnyard grass starting to sprout and many areas have seen a germination of sub-clovers.

“Weeds such as khaki weed, caltrop, blue heliotrope and bathurst burr are also on the increase.”

Ms Edwards said farmers needed to assess soil moisture before sowing to help avoid the risk of failure.


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