Hail has caused extensive damage to Australia’s major pear growing region, in Victoria’s north-east.
The damage has been sustained to orchards at Mooroopna, in the Goulburn Valley, responsible for 90 per cent of the country’s pear production.
Tony Filippi, from Fruit Growers Victoria, said the storm came through on Sunday night.
“It was very isolated, and typical of a hail event where some places didn’t get a drop of rain, but other places had 20 or 30 millimetres,” he said.
“Unfortunately with that rain came quite a bit of ice.”
Mr Filippi said growers were still assessing the damage.
“I’ve seen some vision where hail size was up to 20 millimetres, but that would be isolated cases,” he said.
“Generally it’s fingernail size or smaller. That sized hail is the one that causes you the most grief, as it just does nicking damage onto the fruitlet [young fruit].”
You can see quite a lot of shredded leaves on the ground, as well many of the young fruitlets have been shredded off and onto the ground.
The most damage has been done to pear trees, with many orchards in the early stages of fruit set. Apple trees in the region have also sustained damage.
“It has been quite extensive,” Mr Filippi said.
“You can see quite a lot of shredded leaves on the ground, as well many of the young fruitlets have been shredded off and onto the ground.
“Quite a few are sitting there but after a few days you can start to see a bit of blemish. It’s too early to tell what will happen to that fruit.”
Mr Filippi said given the damage occurred early in the pear-growing season, farmers had options.
“What can happen is the fruit that may be damaged can be taken off and thinned. Blemished fruit could be taken off the tree. If it’s any later, then it becomes a bigger issue,” he said.
“What we would like to do is for as many growers as possible to let us know what they’ve got, so we can build up a case for later in the season to vary the standards of pears in the domestic market.
“If growers that have been affected can leave slightly more fruit on the tree, to get a better pack-out, it will justify what they need to do to get them through the season.”