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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Massive hailstorm a threat to primary producers

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The depth of hail at Fernleigh last night. Image Tracey Knowland.
The depth of hail at Fernleigh last night. Image Tracey Knowland.

Orchardists, nursery owners and market gardeners around the region are counting the cost of last night’s massive hailstorm, with areas as far apart as Fernleigh and Monaltrie heavily affected.

At one plant nursery in Fernleigh the hail crashed through nets and carpeted the ground like snow.

The Knowlands' trashed netting and the carpet of hail at their Fernleigh nursery. Image Tracey Knowland
The Knowlands’ trashed netting and the carpet of hail at their Fernleigh nursery. Image Tracey Knowland

Owner Tracey Knowland said the windows of her car were smashed by ricocheting hailstones even though it was parked under a carport, the hail was so intense.

Ms Knowland, who posted video footage of the event on her Facebook page, says the storm has affected primary produces from Tuckombil and Alstonville right through the district.

She told Echonetdaily that while storms in the area are getting worse, due to climate change, governments are only interested in giving primary producers a hand after the event.

‘Government hands out grant funding after events like this happen. What it needs to do is to help primary producers mitigate against these storms.

‘It’s a Catch 22 at the moment: we can’t get insurance for the nets, yet we can’t get any insurance on the stock unless it is netted.

‘Now primary producers without nets can’t claim their stock losses and those of us with nets face a massive bill to replace them.

‘Why not give people grants for nets so they can at least insure their stocks?’ she questioned.

50% of macadamia crop destroyed

Brooklet Macadamia farmer Jeff Rigby estimates 50 per cent of his crop has been destroyed by this storm and the previous one at the end of August.

‘We were only on the edge of it this time but there will have been significant losses, he said.

‘The fruit is still about pea size, so still relatively vulnerable.’

Monaltrie sustainable home-owner Dale Bowes described ‘hail the size of cricket balls’ trashing his organic nursery and car, as well as making holes in the metal roof of his caravan and several skylights in his home.

Heavy rain also fell around the region, causing localised flooding.

Most of the 66 millimetres recorded at Binna Burra yesterday fell within the space of two hours.

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  1. Large hailstones last night destroyed orchards, nursery plants and market gardens in the region that could increase local produce costs in districts from Fernleigh to distant Monaltrie.


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