Jeandré van der Walt
2 minute read
15 Jan 2021
10:31 am

Eastern Cape hailstorm damages apple, pear crop

Jeandré van der Walt

'Last season, the agriculture sector experienced a difficult production year, especially due to Covid-19 and the challenges it posed for the industry.'

Picture: Supplied

A hailstorm that recently struck parts of the Langkloof caused substantial damage in the area with apples and pears among the main crops affected.

According to Marius van der Westhuizen, a Langkloof representative for Hortgro, the recent hailstorm affected about 1 500ha of the nearly 5 500ha pome fruit production area in the Langkloof. He said that Uniondale, Ongelegen, Misgund and parts of Haarlem were the areas affected.

He did not want to comment on the extent of the damage as it differed from cultivar to cultivar, as well as from farm to farm. He added that the full scope of the damage would likely be apparent in the next week or so as producers determined their losses.

However, he did describe the damage as a huge setback for producers.

“Last season, the agriculture sector experienced a difficult production year, especially due to Covid-19 and the challenges it posed for the industry. For a farmer to suffer hail damage at the beginning of a new production year will definitely have a negative impact on his/her business and finances. It will also leave many farmers in a very difficult position,” said Van der Westhuizen.

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He added that it was also important to take into account that such a setback affected not only producers but also the entire value chain, especially seasonal workers.

“If there is hail damage, there is obviously less work on the farms and in the packhouses. Such an event is very bad for the economy of the Langkloof, especially since large-scale unemployment is already being noticed [on] the platteland. ”

According to Jacques du Preez, Hortgro’s general manager for trade and markets, despite the recent damage to crops in the Langkloof, the apple and pear crops for the other production regions looked good. He added that the industry would soon release a crop estimate.

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