Hail can shred leaves and even, in the worse cases, crush plants. It can kill young plants and destroy fruit tree flowers, ruining the crop.
If you live in an area prone to serious hail storms, it’s a good idea to prepare in advance for hail. Thunderstorms with hail can arrive quickly, with little advance warning. If you have material on hand, ready to cover the crops, you might be able to save them.
Cover plants with anything that breaks the force of the hailstones. Any type of horticultural fabric—even floating row covers—will do some good. Hail netting, made especially to protect against hail, is available. Use shade cloth, polyethylene sheeting, old sheets, or burlap.
Also useful are individual plant covers or row covers. If you have them in the garden, but they are not in place, put them over plants when hail threatens. Seedlings and new transplants, which are most susceptible to hail, can be protected with boards set on pairs of bricks, wooden or cardboard boxes, or plastic nursery flats.
Individual plant covers for seedlings can be made from plastic milk jugs, jars, plastic food container, styrofoam drinking cups, or any other container that will afford some protection.
Because hail arises quickly, it’s necessary to have a plan in mind and material to protect plants available so you can put it over plants when storms are threatening.