Recovery from hail damage for fruit trees

It's important to inspect damage of 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.

Managing horticulture crops after hail – useful resources

Refer to the Horticultural Industry Network website Recovering from Extreme Events for more information about managing crops after hail.

Horticulture producers can also contact their industry association for further advice and support.

Contact us

For more information, contact:

Crop Health Services
Phone: (03) 9032 7323

Page last updated: 16 Jan 2023