“It would have been absolutely devastating for farmers”: Hail, storms bring harvest to a halt across central Victoria

Central Victorian farmers are assessing the damage after storms tore through the region last night.

Hail stones as big as golf balls have been reported in Serpentine, Boort, Wycheproof, Prairie, Bridgewater and Banyena, while the highest rainfall in the 24 hours to 9am today was 40mm at Coonooer Bridge.

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president Brett Hosking was travelling to Melbourne at the time of the storm and said the worst he saw was between Marong and Bridgewater.

“It was like snow on the road,” he said.

“It would have been absolutely devastating for farmers.”

The Quambatook farmer estimated it would have been a total loss for crops in the area.

“It would certainly be a heartbreaking loss to see.”

Cam Parker from Barraport, near Boort, said the crops he was working on had fared better, estimating up to 40 per cent damage to the wheat and 10-20 per cent to the chickpeas.

“It was brewing all afternoon and we could see it coming in from the west,” he said of the storm.

About 15mm fell in 20 minutes, along with hail stones ranging from marble- to golf-ball-size – heavy and hard enough to punch holes in the Laserlite workshop roof.

“It’s always a risk at summer but I definitely haven’t seen it this bad or this quick before.”

Golf-ball-sized hail at Banyena. Picture: Trent Grant/Rach Birch

Golf-ball-sized hail at Banyena. Picture: Trent Grant/Rach Birch

Elmore farmer Ged McCormick said farms in the area had managed to escape the hail, with 8-10mm falling on his farm.

“As far as I know we haven’t had any hail,” he said, adding the rain was not likely to affect crops.

Unfortunately, not all farmers were as lucky, with Mr Hosking hearing anecdotal reports of damage in Boort, Durham Ox, Bridgewater and Marong.

He said the nature of storms was incredibly cruel, with one neighbour impacted and another unscathed.

“It’s not about good or bad farmers, the reality of it is just nature,” he said.