Agriculture minister sees hail damage
Aug 27, 2013 / 4:39 pm
BC's Agriculture Minister was in Kelowna Tuesday seeing first hand damage created by a brief, but intense hail storm the evening of Aug. 12.
Pat Pimm toured areas impacted by the hail at the invitation of the BC Fruit Growers' Association.
About 30 growers and BCFGA representatives attended the event in South Kelowna.
“The growers are very disheartened to suffer this damage so close to harvest. We all appreciate the time the Minister set aside to come and see firsthand the impact of this severe weather event. The impacted growers appreciate the compassion shown by our new Minister of Agriculture,” says Jeet Dukhia, President of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association.
The Minister said Agriculture Ministry staff will assess the damage.
He reiterated several times to growers that it is premature to make decisions before an assessment is made of the type and severity of damage.
The hail storm occurred at about 8 p.m. in South and East Kelowna.
The marble size hail pounded the area for about 15 minutes.
In the aftermath, trees and vines were left with shredded leaves, and fruit was severely damaged with bruising and cuts to the skin.
About 700 acres received extensive damage and much of the fruit is unharvestable.
About 25 to 35 farms had severe damage and will lose their entire crop of apples, impacting up to 15% of the apple harvest.
Several table grape and wine grape growers lost entire crops, but overall less than 1% of the total wine grape crop was
Growers at the roundtable meeting after the tour noted that crop insurance covers crop damage, but not damage to trees and most of it only covers expenses to grow the product not the potential sale price of the fruit.
Leaves were shredded and bruises to tree bark have now erupted into splits in the bark.
Growers face extra costs that include additional fertilizers and nutrients to restore the health of the trees and vines, extra time pruning out damage fruit, extra pest control due to open bark lesions providing access to tree damaging insects, reducing crop load to strengthen trees, and extra handling of unharvested fruit that will harbour pests.
“We are encouraging affected growers to keep good records of the extra work and materials used due to the hail damage,” said Dukhia.
The records may be the basis for proving the need for government assistance to help recovery from this severe weather
“The BCFGA will continue to work with government to seek a response to the extreme weather event of August 12,” concluded Dukhia.
The BCFGA is an agriculture association with a membership of 550 commercial tree fruit growers in BC.
It celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2014.
Here is raw viewer video from the hail storm:
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