Rain, hail wreak havoc

HEAVY rain and hail storms delivered extensive damage to farms across Tasmania last week – a continuing trend for this season.

Last Thursday saw the south blanketed with rains and hail, with particularly heavy falls around Hobart and Huonville, with upwards of 18mm of rain falling in a few hours, causing multiple cases of flash flooding.

Andrew Griggs, of Lucaston Park Orchards in the Huon was one of the many farmers in the area who suffered heavy damages in the storms.
“We’ve never had a hailstorm like that, not that I can remember,” Mr Griggs said.

Lucaston Park grows apples, cherries, and raspberries, all of which were heavily pelted by the hail, though their apple crops were hit particularly hard, the picking of which had only recently begun.

“I’m trying to remain positive, but all we can say is the damage is great, most of our apples will not be sellable.”
“We are hoping we can save a few, but with the costs of harvesting, it might not be a realistic move.”
“It will affect the apples for our season, we can try to reduce the costs to make the best out of the situation, it won’t be worth spending more money on the crops now.”

The hail also substantially damaged the netting around the Lucaston Park fruits, but Mr Griggs said the netting actually limited a lot of the damage in places.

“Where hail did hit the nets, it cushioned the hail quite a bit, the cherries are bruised and knocked about, but they may be able to recover before we start picking.”

Vegetables are also under a similar strain from the rains, with Nathan Daly of Daly Potatoes, saying the wet weather and lack of heat has been halting growth in the South-East.

“The main factor has been these cold snaps, we haven’t had any heat to get any growing time for the potatoes,” Mr Daly said.
“The rain hasn’t helped, we’re probably two months behind schedule with our planting, which push the harvest into winter, and we’ll be chasing our tails again.” “Even now, the ground is only just dry enough to get into certain paddocks.”

Mr Daly said it was the first time they had reached December without needing to irrigate, and with a wet summer predicted this year, it may well be a difficult harvest for many farmers in Tasmania.

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