Farmers are assessing storm damage

FRESNO, Calif.

"When you see a hail stone that does this kind of damage, it does kind of make your mouth open," said stone fruit grower Dan Jackson. Jackson and his family own Family Tree Farms in Tulare County. They were out assessing the damage from Wednesday's hail storm.

"It's been a decimated crop and I don't know how much fruit is going to be able to come off of these orchards, which is unfortunate," said Jackson. Jackson says he's never seen hail strong enough to split nectarines in half. "We're not going to be able to market this fruit and that doesn't count the lost revenue that you would have generated if you would have picked the crop," said Jackson.

150 acres of his 4,000 acre ranch were destroyed. He estimates that to add up to $300,000 in loss profits. Ag officials estimate the financial impact to the stone fruit industry to be quite substantial but won't know the extent of the damage for several weeks.

"Our economy here is so dependent on agriculture, there will be less people working in the packing sheds, less pickers, so it has a snowball effect," said Maryland Kinoshita, the Tulare County Ag Commissioner.

"I would say 50 percent of ours is gone, yes, just on the north part of the ranch that took a swat through here," said Mark Woods. Woods is another farmer who experienced major losses to his plum orchards. He says it will take several weeks to tally up the total losses but it won't be less than $75,000.

"I hope mother-nature won't do any more to us because we can't take it," said Woods.

For now, farmers say all they can do is keep an eye on the approaching storm and hope it doesn't bring any severe weather.

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