Crops survive hail storm, farmers wary of more


MISSOULA, Mont. - The thunderstorms that rolled through Montana on Wednesday sent hailstones crashing against windshields and commuters scrambling for cover.

Riverside Community Garden Manager Greg Price knows firsthand that hail can spell disaster.

"Those young plants take the hail pretty hard," said Price. "It can literally just shred them to pieces. I've probably lost 50 percent of my leaf mass on a spinach crop."

Luckily, Price is talking about a hail storm that hit in the spring of last year.

He tells us Wednesday's hail did some damage, but he says most mature, late-summer plants can take it.

"We got hit with a little bit of hail last night, and you can see some damage on the mature broad-leaf plants, and they look a little bit like rocks were thrown through the leaves, basically," Price said.

With potential for more hail in the forecast, we asked Price if there was anything a person can do to protect their crops.

"For a home gardener who may only have a few tomato plants, you can put sheets of plastic over them if you're expecting hail, or even severe wind.

Price tells us it's good to be prepared. You never know where hail will fall.

"Hail can be so localized, that even when it's predicted, you don't know for sure that it's going to hit your little patch of ground," he said.