Thousands of acres of valuable watermelon crops in China has been wisped out by a freak hailstone during an unusually hot early summer.
The watermelons which were ready to be harvested was smashed into pieces after being hit by the golf ball sized hailstones in the freak weather arrival.
The watermelons were being grown in the Daxing District of Beijing and, although thick-skinned, could not withstand the hailstones measuring 5cm across that smashed into them.
Wei Pei, a local farmer, said: "The hailstorm hit out of nowhere this week, smashing the watermelons and numerous greenhouses. It was as if there was an explosion somewhere and the debris was raining down on us. My neighbour's dog lost an eye – it was that dangerous.
"Many local people will be ruined by this. Watermelons are a valuable crop and a big source of income. Overnight, many have been destroyed."
Pei said he collected hailstones as big as chicken eggs, and added: "No melons can withstand such a force of nature. Even in winter I have never seen hail this big in my life."
Another melon farmer named Song Xueyan said: "I had over four acres of melon land and the watermelons were mature enough to be picked. But they were smashed by the unwelcome hail. I am ruined."
According to a rough estimate from the local government of Wei Shanzhuang Town, the watermelon damaged area spans 2,632 acres.
Ho Wang, a spokesman for the town, said programmes were being organised to extend welfare credits to the farmers whose crops had been destroyed.
Published on: 6/16/2014