A "doozy" of a hailstorm with roiling black clouds has hit Hawke's Bay's main fruit region, though one grape grower says the late spring may have curbed damage to the vines.
The storm struck at one of the worst times of the year for growers - when vineyards and orchards are in early spring growth and crops are particularly prone to damage.
Vineyard owner and former president of the Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Association Chris Howell lives west of Hastings, and told RNZ's Morning Report today he had not seen hail there for 25 years.
"We don't get it very often but boy this was a doozy. The clouds were black as anything and roiling across the sky ... it was pretty impressive if you weren't worrying about a crop."
"We'd been warned to expect severe thunderstorms in the afternoon and some hail but it was ferocious. I couldn't talk to a guy that works with me in my shed - we couldn't hear each other it was that bad."
He said he had been out and about this morning to survey the damage, but it would be hard to know the effects on the fruit until later in the year.
"I've still got little hail drifts around my house this morning, they're quite thick.
"The damage is variable. It depends where you are on the plains and what state of growth your vines are at. I've got vines that are anywhere from elongated bud to first leaf out, anything that's elongated bud is fine ... I've got three different sites and they're all different growth stages.
"We don't flower until the end of November so we won't really know until we see those inflorescences elongate and expand just really what the level of damage is."
He thought the late spring might be a bit of a saving grace in some ways, however.
"For some growers it's going to be a bit hard but fortunately for most of us the season's running a bit late so, you know, we've still got a lot of blocks that haven't even really gone past bud swell yet.
"I think that what we'll find is some blocks will have been hit pretty hard, other blocks will be fine ... varieties like chardonnay which are early, they're the varieties that are gonna be most likely hardest hit."
However, Yummy Fruit orchards general manager Paul Paynter expected stonefruit and some early apple varieties would have been affected.
"[We're] at the small sort of fruitlet stage for stonefruit and just just at fruit-set for some early apple varieties, so you've got this tiny wee embryo of a fruit and it's basically just been hit pretty viciously by a bit of hail and so when it grows it will be horribly deformed.
Mr Paynter said the weather presented challenges every season and growers just had to roll with the punches.
"There will be some damage but hopefully it'll be at a relatively small level and every year we will have rain events or hail or frost that will cause some issues and if this is the only thing we have all season I'll take it an move on," he said.