STONEFRUIT orchards in the South Burnett are among those reeling from the storm supercells that decimated the region last Thursday afternoon, with tennis ball-size hail up to 7cm wide reported in the Kumbia district.
Kumbia stonefruit growers Graham, Shane and Lindsay Francis felt the full brunt of the supercell and have lost 90 per cent of their early maturing stone fruit crop.
The family had only just begun a five-week harvest and the crop was looking terrific.
“We were going to pick some amazing fruit off these trees over the next few weeks,” Shane Francis said.
He said about two-fifths of the orchard wasn’t covered with hail netting and was totally wiped out.
Another two-fifths were under older-style hail netting which didn’t handle the storm. Between 80-90 per cent of this crop has also been lost.
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The rest was under a newer, different style netting and looks to have survived the huge hailstones which pelted the property.
“We will work our way through the mess to save what we can under the newer netting, but certainly the older netting has gone,” Shane said.
Shane said the losses could be more than $2 million, which also included damage to a young avocado crop.
He said about 60 seasonal workers who were expecting another four weeks of work were now looking for new jobs, and many also suffered hail damage to their vehicles and caravans.
Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the supercell storm had hit the South Burnett community in many ways.
“Crops have been written off, properties damaged and animals injured,” Ms Frecklington said.
Stonefruit growers weren’t the only residents to be hard hit by Thursday’s storm.
Hail stones smashed windows at the Kumbia Race Club, the Kumbia Memorial Hall and private homes, while a tornado was reported at Tansey by mid afternoon.
- This story first appeared on the Qld Country Life.