Farmers fear 80 percent crop loss after severe hailstorm in Canterbury, New Zealand

Two severe weather events battered New Zealand’s Canterbury region over the past 3 days – a severe hailstorm in Timaru on November 20, 2019, and a destructive tornado that ripped through Christchurch on November 18.  After the catastrophic events, farmers found themselves salvaging spared crops, with fears that as much as 80% was lost.

Insurers reported that they have received hundreds of claims after a severe hailstorm with hail the size of golf balls, saying, “It’s been pretty extensive, it’s done a lot of damage to a broad range of crops – wheat and barley, particularly.”

“It’s just been chopped right off by the hail storm,” said Brian Leadley, Vice-chairperson of Federated Farmers. His crop of peas is one month away from harvest, and the storm badly bruised the plants.

The majority of the crops are going to be exposed to disease as well, which means farmers may have to invest more money into crops.

“Farmers are feeling really under pressure from a number of different areas within the sector and this just adds to it,” Leadley said.

A farmer from Waipopo named Alan Newton said he has never suffered damage like this from a storm since he was young.

“We haven’t had a hail storm in this area like that since 1960 so it’s not like it’s worth insuring,” he remarked. “Its the risk factor that we take, mother nature I suppose, can be kind and can be cruel.”

MetService gave a brief statement about the situation, saying, “It’s with those more severe thunderstorms that we do see more accumulation of hail and the hail managing to get bigger and bigger so the bigger the updrafts in those thunderstorms the bigger the hail.”