Stonefruit crops devestated by hailstorm
Wednesday’s storm, which dumped tonnes of heavenly ice and stripped trees throughout the district, hammered Heavenly Farm near Bangalow, trashing half its harvest to the tune of more than $100,000.
Mr Dalli, whose parents John and Pat pioneered stone fruit horticulture at Newrybar 30 years ago, now manages Heavenly Farm for owner Ray Hick. He says his father, now retired, never saw hail as bad as during Wednesday’s storm.
With the peach and nectarine harvest half-way through, Mr Dalli says hail has trashed 95 per cent of what is left on the trees and the remainder is not worth the expense of harvesting. That loss equates to 3500 trays at $30 a tray.
Mr Dalli said some orchards on the 10ha property were netted to protect against birds and flying foxes, but its mesh size was too large to stop the hail.
Neighbouring farms that did have hail netting saved their harvest, but at the expense of severely damaged netting. He said hail ripped nets and bent poles, resulting in damage exceeding the loss of a harvest.
As well as lost stone fruit Mr Dalli says hail stripped much of the farm’s lime and macadamia trees, with both crops losing fingernail-sized fruit – next year’s harvest.
“This is the second year we’ve copped hail damage,” said Mr Dalli who noted 40 per cent of last year’s stone fruit were lost to the big storm 12 months ago.
“In a good year the rewards are there, but with costs going up in fuel and fertilisers it is harder to stay viable when you get kicked two years in a row. It’s hard to keep going,” he said.