Storm is terrible for local growers
By HELEN JACK
CHRIS and Trisha Gilbert's orchard trees were laden with fruit but within 20 minutes the season's crop was on the ground, hidden by leaves stripped during Tuesday's storm.
"We are still in shock," Mr Gilbert said from his orchard at Busby's Flat.
"I've never seen hail like it.
"A big black cloud came over the range and my first thought was to cover the solar panels.
"We were very fortunate. If the panels were facing into the wind with the hail coming from the north it would have been a different story."
Mr Gilbert said it was difficult to estimate how much income they had lost.
"These trees will come back but we have lost income for a couple of years," he said.
"This year's crop will be non-existent and next year's crop won't be good."
In their orchard, the Gilbert's have 1100 mango trees and 900 macadamia trees nestled at the foot of Mount Belmore.
"The orchard is a horseshoe shape and the trees closest to the mountain were not as badly damaged," Mr Gilbert said.
"But the others, the storm has pruned off the trees' southern side.
"More growers get hit by hail a lot more times than we have."
Mr Gilbert said he was wondering how he could turn his luck around with last years crop also decimated because of bushfires.
"Two years in a row, I am wondering what we have done wrong," he said.
"A year ago we had spot fires in the orchard from embers blown over from the bushfires."