5 Nov 2014

Hail storm smashes Motueka orchards

2:10 pm on 5 November 2014

A hail storm that is being described as unprecedented caused massive damage to orchards in the Tasman district last night.

Motueka Fruit Growers Association chairman Simon Easton said he had never seen such a widespread hailstorm hit the area in his lifetime and the hail's still so thick on the ground it looks like it had been snowing.

"Last night at approximately 10 o'clock we had a significant hail storm and it's affected quite a big area; Riwaka, through Motueka and up into Moutere.

"So quite a significant event and you're hearing reports of some light damage (through) to absolute write-offs, severe damage, multiple hits, shredding of leaves - it's pretty devastating for the region.

Apples seem to be the worst affected - kiwifruit I think have had some shredded leaves but I don't think it's had the same affect."

Mr Easton said it would be weeks before the full damage could be assessed, but it was clear the area had been severely affected.

"It's the worst, most wide-spread storm I've ever heard of.

"We grow approximately 60 hectares [of apples] and we've had 24 hectares - it's early to make assessments - but I'd say we've had 60 to 80 percent damage - it's going to be a tough one to salvage.

"I just drove around an orchard now and it's (hail) still on the ground, it's like tis snowed. Hail netting's come down on one orchard, it was that heavy its actually brought down the netting - it's unbelievable."