Recovery from hail damage for stone fruit trees
It's important to inspect damage of stone fruit trees as soon as possible after a hail event as the level of damage can be obscured by subsequent growth.
Hail can impact on the foliage, flowers, stems, branches and fruit in various ways:
- Trees can be completely stripped of leaves and fruit.
- Leaves can be bruised, torn, tattered, have holes in them or be completely knocked off the plant.
- Stems and branches can be broken or bruised and scarred.
- Flowers can be damaged but this is harder to assess unless flowers have been knocked off the plant.
- Fruit can be bruised, have chunks of flesh removed or be knocked to the ground.
- Trees can be misshapen by broken limbs and may need retraining.
- Pests and diseases can enter fruit and bark through wounds caused by hail.
- Fallen fruit can harbour pests and diseases.
Those with hail damage insurance should contact their insurer and arrange for damage assessment.
Management of hail-damaged trees
The following tips can help you manage trees damaged by hail:
- Prune off severely damaged stems and branches as soon as possible to prevent infections. Seal stems of branches to protect against infection.
- Summer pruning may be necessary to retrain young trees and optimise new growth.
- Use fruit thinning to selectively remove hail-damaged fruit and to improve yield and quality of remaining fruit.
- To reduce the risk of pests and disease remove or mulch fruit that has fallen to the ground.
- Apply fertilisers and irrigation at optimum levels to help the trees overcome the stress caused by the hail damage.
- Inspect damaged plants more frequently for pests and diseases.
- It might be necessary to replace young trees if damage to the plants is severe enough.
Wounds are a key infection site for disease, and particularly bacterial diseases:
- Hail wounds on the fruit and bark may need fungicides to prevent disease entry.
- Where practical, cover large wounds on trunks and branches with a water-based paint to avoid desiccation and disease infection.
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