Many people are still dealing with the damage left by Mother Nature on May 15th, but farmers will be feeling the effects for a long time to come. The storm didn’t just damage their property, it may have ruined their livelihood.
“That had all the apple blossoms on and the hail has taken all of them out. There’s nothing there. There’s just nothing there,” said Allen Clark, owner of Clark Farms at Bushy Hill Orchard.
Surveying the damage to their 76 acre orchard in Granby, it’s quickly apparent to the Clark Family that the fruits of their labor may not be realized this season.
“It’s heartbreaking. Everything was perfect conditions,” Allen’s wife Becky recalled of the morning before the storm hit. “Within five hours it’s gone.”
The Clarks said 50-mile-per-hour winds whipped golf-ball sized hail down at their crop.
“Just picture a rock, that you’re just throwing rocks at things anything like that is just going to get damaged,” explained Allen.
The Clarks said that hail wiped out most of the blossoms on their apple trees and without blossoms, the apples can’t grow.
“There will not be a second blossom to come to give us any more apples so whatever we have left is what we have, like 25%, and we don’t know the quality of those apples,” said Allen.
It’s not just the apples said the farm’s manager, Earl Swaby.
“The peach, the blueberry, they’re all gone,” said Swaby.
Swaby has worked at the farm for more than 25-years and said this is the worst devastation he’s ever seen to the crops.
He said the best case scenario is that the crops bounce back next season. The Clarks are worried about the worst case.
“If the trees die we’re left with nothing. We right now we are just hoping in the next few days that these trees are going to survive,” said Becky.
Allen said the trees were planted 30 years ago and would take at least five to start producing fruit if they had to be replanted.
The storm also broke windows, pierced siding, and damaged their tractor. Those will all be repaired or replaced by insurance.
“You can’t repair a tree,” Becky pointed out. “That’s where the worry lies right now and there’s nothing anybody can do.”
Right now, it’s wait and see for the Clarks, and what they see they really don’t like. They’ll know whether they’ll be able to salvage any of the fruit in a month. However, they say the bigger battle will be fighting to keep the trees alive for the next several years.