A Hawke's Bay orchard owner says the hailstorm that hit the region was the heaviest in 20 years, and could have significant consequences for the summer fruit season.

Ruby Glen Orchard owner Doug McPhail said the one blessing of the storm on Tuesday, which coated Napier in hail and caused flooding in Flaxmere, was that it wasn't two weeks later.

The McPhail family has owned and operated the boutique orchard on the south side of Napier city since 1997.

They produce a range of diverse products including berry fruit, cherries, summerfruit and subtropicals.


"It was the heaviest hail we have had in 20 plus years. The sheer volume of it in a short space of time," he said.

With the season under way, cherry blossoms could be the crop most hurt by the storm.

"Cherries are in blossom. Some in 100 per cent blossom, some in 50 to 80 per cent blossom.

"Our cherries are reasonably well-protected because of netting, which broke the impact of the fall of the hail .

"But we won't know the extent of damage done for a week or two yet."

He said when they did fully inspect the blossoms they would be looking at a couple of key things.

"The first would be - have the bees done the pollination? The bees should be working flat out right now, I don't know how they will react once they see the petals blown off with hail.

"I would also be looking at whether hail has knocked the baby fruit right inside the flower.


"How much bruising is done is key. The plants now need to recover from the bruising they have had. You can see little bits of leaves punctured off at the bottom of the trees."

Hail also blew some blossom flowers "clean off", he said.

"We had rock'n roll weather. If this happened in two weeks' time it would be devastating.

He said they had been advised to use fungicide for the time being to stop potential infection.

Chief executive of New Zealand Apple & Pears Allan Pollard said early varieties of pip fruit could have been affected by the sustained hail on Tuesday.

"It's a bit early to tell.


"We have a lot of orchards in Meanee, Napier, where the hail seemed to have hit the hardest and early varieties could have been affected because of early flowering, with the flowers being knocked off."

He believed stonefruit growers would have been the worst affected.

Yummy Fruit's technical adviser David Willan said the damage done was "largely superficial", but it did still have an impact.

"It could make the fruits potentially not sellable because they would have impact marks.

"Some of our earlier stonefruit would have smaller fruitlets now which could have had marks."

Horticulture New Zealand director Leon Stallard said although he was not in Hawke's Bay on Tuesday he was aware of the blossom and leaf damage.


"But such is life. You have to be resilient."