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By Robyn Bristow

Hail ripped nets and peppered plants at CJ’s Plant Farm on the outskirts of Amberley on Wednesday afternoon, leaving many plants battered and bruised.

The storm rolled in about 4.30pm delivering hail stones half the size of golf balls. Nets tore apart or collapsed on to plants under the weight of the hail which pelted the region for about 15 minutes, before heavy rain delivered a drenching.

CJ’s owner Jeff Elliott says the storm has come at a “huge cost”, but at this stage he has no idea how much.

He says CJ’s retail area wasn’t affected, but the larger wholesale side – Elliott’s Wholesale Nursery – came under siege.

He hopes to have it back up and running by Monday next week.

Frozen . . . A net sags under the weight of hail at Elliott’s Wholesale. Photo: Karryn Clark

The storm had hit at one of their busiest times, and not being able to get plants out of the wholesale area was proving to be the biggest issue.

Also he can’t get staff in to start cleaning up and putting the nets back up until the hail has melted.

“There is a few tonnes of hail,” says Jeff. Irrigation sprinklers have also been damaged.

“It is a bit of a double-edged sword. We saved a lot of plants because of the nets, but some were damaged when they collapsed and ripped,” says Jeff.

Battered . . . A damaged leaf at Elliott’s Wholesale Nursery. Photo: Supplied
Slowly thawing . . . Hail accumulated in a net is slowly thawing. Photo: Supplied

He and his wife Caroline were able to collapse two of the larger nets while hail stones rained down on them, but others were torn apart, leaving gaping holes for the stones to pierce holes in the leaves of plants.

“We will have to think a bit sideways to try and recover some of our losses. We might have to have a whale of a hail sale.”

While the hail pelted many parts of North Canterbury leaving a white landscape behind, further inland there was a brief snow storm which left a bit of skiff behind. It was frozen solid by Thursday morning.