The damage to vegetable crops shredded by tornado hail in the region last week has hit growers hard and could affect supply volume well into the spring.
The worst of the hail band was centred between Ōhau and Kuku - some of the most fertile growing land in Horowhenua.
Nigel Sue, a third-generation vege farmer from Ōhau with brother Travis and father Gordon, said any grower learned to accept adverse weather events as part and parcel of the business.
But this was the most destructive natural event in the farm's history. Acres of broccoli, cauliflower, celery, lettuce and cabbage looked as if they had been ripped apart by machine gunfire.
"We've had hail before but not like this. This is like shotgun blasts," he said.
It ripped through acres of crops, leaving plants shredded and useless. There were small pockets that missed the worst of the hail, although what couldn't be salvaged for market would have to be ploughed back into the ground.
"It looks like a herd of sheep have been in here for a week," he said.
It was still too early to say how many crops had been destroyed as some fight to recover, but it could be as much as 50 per cent of the farm. Plants that had survived were too bruised for market.
The farm fared particularly badly because it propagated everything on site from scratch. More than 50,000 seedlings awaiting autumn planting got smashed.
"It will have a flow-on effect," he said.
Sue the business would take a financial hit, although he was reluctant to estimate a figure at this stage. He was concerned less winter cultivation could mean less work for staff, too.
Where normally 20 to 30 pallets of vegetables would be dispatched for Auckland yesterday, just one pallet was loaded.
The worst of the hail was over in five minutes. The wind was powerful enough to move heavy machinery and rip the walls from greenhouses. Everyone on the farm at the time sought shelter in the shed.
Woodhaven Gardens company director Jay Clarke said the damage to crops was "catastrophic" and unlike anything they had seen in the past 44 years.
Woodhaven was the region's largest grower and oversaw 1000ha of productive land. At least 10 per cent of crops were affected by hail damage - 40 hectares were completely ruined.
He said it was pointless trying to attach a cost to the damage. While it would be significant, they would trade their way out of it.
"But if that level of damage had occurred across our entire operation, it would have been business ending. It would have been hard to bounce back from that," he said.
Leaves were ripped from stalks leaving cabbage, silverbeet, celery and spinach crops decimated, while lettuce, broccoli and radish crops took a hit too.
"It can be a tough industry at times. I would encourage anyone wanting to show their support to buy healthy, fresh New Zealand-grown vegetables," he said.
Retailers set pricing so it was hard for him to predict whether consumers would be affected, but there would definitely be gaps in supply as autumn planting was done with spring harvest in mind.
Ōhau was a growing region for a variety of crops. Sue Hori Te Pa, from Shirley's Strawberries in Ōhau, said the hail had damaged acres of plastic bedding the strawberries were grown in, poking thousands of tiny holes in the polythene.
Moores Valley Nurseries in Ōhau also reported damage to its grow houses with perspex roofing smashed by hailstones that measured 40mm in diameter.
There were some narrow misses. On the edge of Ōhau was The Garden Depot, which had greenhouses at the front of the nursery and reported no hail damage.