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Storm rips out 83 tunnels and destroys strawberry farm crop

PUBLISHED: 05:36 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:53 29 September 2020

Sharrington Strawberries was hit with 70mph winds which destroyed the tunnels which protect the crops. Picture: Sharrington Strawberries

Sharrington Strawberries was hit with 70mph winds which destroyed the tunnels which protect the crops. Picture: Sharrington Strawberries

Archant

A north Norfolk strawberry farmer has told of his devastation after losing a year’s-worth of work in 13 hours.

Simon Turner, 63, owner and managing director of Sharrington Strawberries. Picture: Sharrington StrawberriesSimon Turner, 63, owner and managing director of Sharrington Strawberries. Picture: Sharrington Strawberries

Simon Turner, 63, owner and managing director of Sharrington Strawberries, said he and his team worked tirelessly to save their crops on September 25 when fierce winds and rain battered north Norfolk.

Despite working from 6am until 7pm, Mr Turner expected the damage to the tunnels at Field Dalling to be a six-figure sum.

The wind, which reached speeds of 70mph, destroyed the tunnels which protect the crops. Thousands of steel tunnel hoops were snapped in half, thousands of metres of plastic covers were destroyed, as well as 40 miles of rope.

The farm started the day with 90 tunnels, but now has only seven left.

Sharrington Strawberries was hit with 70mph winds which destroyed the tunnels, thousands of meters of tunnel plastic covers were destroyed as well as  40 miles of rope. Picture: Sharrington StrawberriesSharrington Strawberries was hit with 70mph winds which destroyed the tunnels, thousands of meters of tunnel plastic covers were destroyed as well as 40 miles of rope. Picture: Sharrington Strawberries

“It breaks your heart because the hard work that goes into this is immense,” he said. “To see all that damage done, it’s a very bitter pill to swallow.

“We did everything we could possibly do and my guys worked very hard in the circumstances.

“Sadly we could not save it. But, they did all they could. Everyone was soaked to the skin: we had three inches of rain the same day so it was horrendous.

“The most important thing is none of my guys were hurt and we have to pick up the pieces to go again.”

Sharrington Strawberries worked tirelessly to save their crops in the high winds that hit Norfolk. Picture: Sharrington StrawberriesSharrington Strawberries worked tirelessly to save their crops in the high winds that hit Norfolk. Picture: Sharrington Strawberries

Mr Turner, who has run the farm for almost 40 years, said he has never seen weather like it in September.

“It is completely devastating,” he said.

“Gales like this comes at the end of October, and you expect that. We still had four or five weeks to go of the strawberry picking and selling.”

Mr Turner was expecting to still be trading until the first week of November. He is now focused on cleaning up the farm.

Sharrington Strawberries was hit with 70mph winds which destroyed the tunnels which protect the crops. Picture: Sharrington StrawberriesSharrington Strawberries was hit with 70mph winds which destroyed the tunnels which protect the crops. Picture: Sharrington Strawberries

He said it could take up to three weeks with at least 20 people to clear up.

“We have the people employed, they would be picking fruit and I would be selling,” he said. We still have some fruit to sell but it will impact greatly on the business.”


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