Hail covers the ground April 11 at an orchard near Traver, Calif.
Hail covers the ground April 11 at an orchard near Traver, Calif.

California stone fruit growers’ damage estimates in the wake of an April 11 hail storm have yet to be completed, but some are expected to face massive crop loss.

“We’re definitely still in the assessing mode,” Barry Bedwell, president of the Fresno-based California Grape & Tree Fruit League, said April 13. “But there are clearly certain orchards that will not see any fruit harvested.”

“Peaches, plums and nectarines are all going to be impacted, and nut crops as well,” he said. “I don’t think there was much in the way of (grape) vines in this area. Tree fruit is going to be the area with the most damage.”

Crop loss heavy in California hail stormWhile traveling to Bakersfield the day after the hail fell, Bedwell passed some affected areas.

“You could see the amount of leaves taken off,” he said. “Half or more was on the ground. The fruit that was still on the tree had pieces split in two. With hail you typically see little nicks and chunks; this was much more intense.”

The size and amount of the hailstones exceeded normal storms.

The storm reached from Hanford in the west to near Orosi in the east, with the Traver area hit hardest.

Crop loss heavy in California hail stormFor cherries, the bulk of production takes place to the south of where the storm hit, Bedwell said.

“This was more northern Tulare County,” he said. “Cherries are going to have more issues with rain than hail. We’re getting rain throughout the state. It’s been a very unsettled week. Fresno saw three quarters to an inch of rain. The delta had more.”

For all that, the region still lags behind average seasonal rainfall totals.

“The timing would have been better earlier,” Bedwell said.

Thundershowers were forecast for Traver and Kingsburg April 13, with a clearing trend predicted to start over the weekend.