Citrus crop decimated by severe hail event

A freak hail storm has wreaked havoc in the Griffith area, with some citrus growers now looking at years before their next harvest.

The sudden hail ripped into fruit and stripped bark from trees, causing estimated losses up to 100 per cent of crops on some farms. The resultant damage will either mean costly picking with no crop to sell, manual thinning and pruning, or mechanical hedging that could see no crops harvested for three years.

NSW Farmers citrus grower Jo Brighenti Barnard said everyone was surprised by how quickly the storm set in, and at the scale of the damage.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before in all the years our family has been here,” Ms Brighenti Barnard said.

“Now we need to get all this season’s damaged fruit off the trees so we don’t get fruit flies, but we won’t be able to sell any of it I don’t think, it’s going to be a huge cost.

“It would be great to see some support made available to help clean up the mess and prevent fruit fly problems, especially since we won’t get an income now for a few years.”

NSW Farmers Horticulture Committee Chair Guy Gaeta said state and federal governments had been responsive to calls for disaster assistance after floods and storms last year, and was hopeful something could be done for Griffith’s citrus growers.

“This is a freak storm and the economic impacts will be felt for years by some growers, who have already been hit hard during COVID,” Mr Gaeta said.

“Any affected grower should fill out the primary industries natural disaster damage survey so we can start the process of getting government support.

“Every little bit of help will keep these farmers going after the couple of years they’ve already had, and the couple of years ahead.”

The state and federal governments announced $50,000 Primary Producer Recovery Grants after NSW Farmers called for government support during widespread flood events in 2021, and these grants have now been extended to more areas.

“It’s great to see the government listen to our calls for help and I’m certain this will be welcomed by those in affected rural and regional communities,” NSW Farmers President James Jackson said.

“These terrible storms and floods not only do major damage when the rain falls and the floodwater rises, but they leave a huge cleanup effort that is very expensive in terms of time and money.

“Every little bit of help will get these communities back on their feet and growing the best food and fibre we have to offer.”

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.