Storm damages crops

A Dumbarton fruitgrower says a storm on Sunday afternoon has ''written off'' most of the crops on his property.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his corn, pumpkins and peaches had been damaged in the downpour, which was localised to Dumbarton, between Roxburgh and Ettrick, and some surrounding areas.

''There might be a wee bit left but not much. [There's] nothing there of any value.''

He did not know how much the damage would set him back yet, but said it would be ''a lot of money''.

''We are lucky that over the hill 2km away we have a stonefruit orchard and that has not been too badly affected.''

Growers affected by the storm would have to ''just carry on'', he said.

Wayne Duncan, of Ettrick, said his rain gauge recorded 32mm of precipitation after the storm, which began about 2.30pm and lasted half an hour.

''We were sitting up about 32degC and it blacked over [with clouds] and it dropped to about 20degC almost instantly.''

Mr Duncan said there were lightning flashes and hailstones the size of peas.

''I went down to check on the locals down our road and they said they had never seen anything like it.

''It was filling up lawns and creating surface flooding.''

The storm came as a surprise after the dry summer so far, he said.

Ettrick farmer Quinten Pringle said onions growing on land he leased were hit ''pretty hard'' by the storm, which he described as ''fierce''.

''It [the hail] knocks the tops around.

''It's like they have been hit by a shotgun.''

Fodder beet had also been damaged, but he expected that crop to recover.

He did not know how much damage the storm caused to orchards in the area, but believed it would affect the local economy.

Pipfruit New Zealand director and Teviot Valley orchardist Stephen Darling said it was too soon to provide details about the damage.

''Obviously, there has been some impact on growers' crops [but it is] too soon to put any estimates on that.''

Growers would probably assess damage to fruit in the next day or two, and establish what would need to be done, Mr Darling said.

leith.huffadine@odt.co.nz

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