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.

Contact us

For more information, contact:

Crop Health Services
Phone: (03) 9032 7323
Email: chs.reception@agriculture.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 22 Jun 2020