Farmers lose 3,500 avocado trees in horror storm
IT'S an uphill battle they do not deserve but must face.
Mary's Creek farmers John Groves and daughter Kate weren't on their property when the tornado-like thunderstorm swept through the Gympie region with nightmarish ferocity on Thursday afternoon, but they soon saw the devastating fallout.
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Left with 3,500 of their avocado trees stripped completely bare and extensive damages to their banana and pumpkin crops, the family has been left with no choice but to try and pick up the pieces - and not for the first time.
They were previously ravaged by "freakish volumes of hail" that took out 75 per cent of their crops in 2013.
"I was here just before the storm, and we got the warning on the radio to say there was a severe storm coming. We got the workers to leave and then we left because I had to take them back to town," Ms Groves said.
"It's pretty devastating really, it was shaping up to be a very good season for us, and everything was looking really healthy.
"It had all finished flowering and the fruit had all set, so it's devastating."
"We've had hailstorms before but nothing like this, we're feeling tired," Mr Groves added.
Their avocado product won John, Leslie and Kate the Reserve Grand Champion prize in the Fruit and Vegetable section of this year's Gympie show, but the Groves family must now endure a year's worth of crops being completely decimated.
Ms Groves said the nature of avocado farming would mean a long road to recovery for the farm.
"No structures or buildings were damaged but we lost fences, trees went down and 3,500 avocado trees are all just sticks now with no leaves, no fruit, nothing on them," she said.
"We also have bananas and pumpkins, you can't even see the pumpkins anymore. The bananas we'll have to cut them all down and let them re-grow.
"Because it's avocados you get one crop a year and we lost it, we have two years without an income but a lot of money to spend if we're going to get an income."
"We'll have nothing next season, maybe another season after that, it'll be three years before we're back, and that's if we can control the disease and the sunburn and all that other stuff," Mr Groves said.