Levin storm 'will have effect on national supplies'

Photo: RNZ
Photo: RNZ
Some Levin growers have been hit hard in today's hail and thunderstorm, with one likening the damage to a shot gun blast to the veges.

Locals describe a mini tornado hitting early this morning, ripping trees up, roofs off and sending debris including a whole garage flying.

MetService says over a period of six hours this morning there was about 12,000 lightning strikes around the country.

Some growers say the hail was as deep as 15 centimetres, destroying fields of crops and covered seedlings, which will likely cause ongoing supply issues.

Vegetables New Zealand chair John Murphy told Checkpoint the Horowhenua region supplied about 20 percent of some green vegetables, "so this will have an effect on national supplies, unfortunately".

"You're talking about greens, broccoli, celery, and cabbage I've heard have been particularly affected.

"But we really need to talk to people next week and assess the damage properly before we can speak too much."

Growers had been hard to get hold of on Friday because they were in clean-up mode, Murphy said.

"The ones we have been able to get hold of have told us of pretty widespread damage - whereas 400m away sometimes their crops are fine. In one location they have seen hail as deep as 15cm."

While growers usually had insurance to cover equipment, he said the crops were at the mercy of the weather.

Going forward, supply of seedlings would be key, he said.

"Quite often they are in a glasshouse or plastic house that allows them to grow better when they are smaller but those have just been pulled to bits by the hail."

He said it was concerning on top of the dry weather affecting Pukekohe.

"It's a little bit disappointing because prices were easing. But there is the good vegetables out there at good prices, if you look for those that are on special, but today's news was a real kick in the shins for growers."

Murphy hoped other regions could help fill the produce gap.

"What we are seeing is good supplies coming on (from other regions) ... hopefully that fills the gap nicely. Hopefully our growers are back on their feet quickly. We are pretty resilient. So even talking to people today in Horowhenua, they are talking about the crops that are still good there - and they'll be doing everything to get them out.

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