Preventing Hail Damage
Preparing for a storm
The first step of prevention is keeping an eye on the weather forecast so you can prepare your garden before the hail starts. If a hailstorm is predicted, you can prepare your garden before you leave home for the day, and can plan ahead instead of needing to run through the storm to save your plants. For low growing plants, use row covers to slow or stop the hail. Large or prolonged hail can rip through Agribon or Tufflite, but even the hail that breaks through the cover will have less damaging effects than if you do not use a row cover. When installing a row cover for storm protection, only put it up for the day of the storm and do not allow the cover to touch the plants so that you limit the risks of heat stress. For potted plants and other individual plants, you can put a bucket or trashcan over them, however be sure to weigh or stake the covers down so they don’t blow off in the storm.
A blowing bucket can cause more damage on its own than the hail you were trying to protect your plants from in the first place. Covers of this type should only be left on for a few hours at most, as they can cause a lot of heat to build up around the plant. Trees, grapevines and other large woody plants are usually able to withstand hail damage. However, if the fruit is still ripening or if the plant is young, you may want to cover them as much as possible with Agribon, burlap, or even with a tarp or blanket to protect green wood and growing fruit. For taller plants like tomatoes, or if you live in an area with frequent hailstorms and need to leave up a more permanent solution, consider using hardware cloth over your garden. The sturdy metal cloth will deflect most hailstones without trapping in heat or blocking sunlight or rainwater. Vigorous plants recover best. Keep your garden and yard properly fertilized before the storm season for healthy plants that can withstand the damage of hail.