A LONGFORD berry business has lost at least $20,000 worth of its crops after hailstones the size of ‘‘chocolate Lindt balls’’ hammered the property on Thursday afternoon.
Longford Berries is a small local operation that produces gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries and owner Dennis Betts said they had lost most of the crop.
The operation supplies a small amount of fruit to Youngs Vegie Shed but Mr Betts said mostly it had become a local and tourist ‘‘pick your own’’ berry attraction.
All the berries, bar a small corner of the blueberry crops were damaged and will need to be destroyed.
‘‘You can’t do anything with them, you can’t even jam them because they’re all so full of water,’’ Mr Betts said.
Mr Betts said the farm was experiencing the best strawberry season it had seen in a few years but said he’d lost about 200kgs of the fruit during the freak storm.
‘‘We had some beautiful fruit, it’s been a great season,’’ he said.
He also lost gooseberry, raspberry and blackberry crops.
Mr Betts said if the weather cleared up in the next six weeks he could see some more strawberries come through but said otherwise the season was done.
The storm also damaged some of next year’s plants.
Mr Betts said while it was frustrating and disappointing on a personal level to lose the crops he said he couldn’t begrudge the positive benefits of getting the rain.
‘‘There are so many people who are doing it tough and who have been crying out for some rain how can I be churlish about our loss,’’ he said.
He said he had recorded 85mm of rain in hail from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning.
Three large inflatable ducks the farm had floating on their dam also ‘‘died’’ in the storm, with all three being pierced by hailstones.