15 Dec 2009

Growers assess Canterbury hail damage

8:51 pm on 15 December 2009

Arable farmers in Canterbury are assessing damage to grain, seed and vegetable crops from the heavy hail that battered parts of the region on Monday.

Thunderstorms caused hundreds of lightning strikes and produced hail stones up to 2 or 3cm in diameter in areas stretching from south to north Canterbury.

Initial reports indicate some farms could lose 20% to 40% of their crop yields.

Heinz Watties is assessing damage to pea crops grown for it under contract.

The company was expecting to harvest more than 30,000 tonnes of peas from record plantings in Canterbury this year.

Agricultural manager Mark Daniels says it's had reports of some damage, but it's too early to know the extent of any losses.

Mayfield cropping farmer Arch King says the hail damaged his wheat and barley crops, farm vehicles and a plane that was on the ground. The aircraft's top and wings are dented.

A grain and seed growers' representative, Michael Morrow, says it's a time of year when thunder storms are common, but some crops are also at their most vulnerable growing stage.