Fruit bowl recovery marred by storms

Flood recovery efforts continue in one of Australia's key fruit-growing regions, but flow-on effects, storms and logistical problems continue to hinder producers.

Already facing one of the toughest seasons on record because of floods, labour shortages and supply chain challenges, the Goulburn Valley was slammed with massive hailstorms in November and December.

"In some parts of the storm the trees were actually stripped of all leaves and fruit," Fruit Growers Victoria grower services manager Michael Crisera told AAP.

The December storm had damaged more than $50 million of produce across 1500 hectares, he said.

Floods have also prevented access to orchards in the region in the spring, delaying spraying efforts and leading to crops lost to disease.

"It's been a challenging season for growers, that's for sure," Mr Crisera said.

The Goulburn Valley produces roughly 90 per cent of Australia's pears and almost 50 per cent of its apples.

"Volumes of fruit are definitely going to be impacted and supply is definitely short this season," Mr Crisera said.

The challenges have compounded supply-chain headaches for fruit producers, with increased freight costs at home and COVID-19 wreaking havoc on export markets.

"Air freight helped the stone fruit guys out quite a bit but that's become probably non-existent since COVID," Mr Crisera said.

"Sea freight has been quite unreliable.

"Journeys that are normally 25, 30 days, turned into 80 days and ended up being an absolute debacle for those products."

Victorian Agriculture Minister Gayle Tierney visited the Goulburn region this week, assuring producers the state's flood assistance packages would extend to the recent hailstorms.

"Horticulture producers and communities have been through a lot already - recent storms, floods, and now hail, have hit them right before the critical harvest period," Ms Tierney said in a statement.

"That's why we're expanding financial support for flood-affected areas to include growers in the Goulburn Valley region affected by the hail events."

In Shepparton, one of the first Victorian regional cities inundated by floodwaters in October, recovery efforts continue.

Roughly between 35 and 50 people were still displaced but mayor Shane Sali said council was working with the state government to provide accommodation near their homes.

"People want to be back in their own environment and try and get a house back up and running and organised," Mr Sali told AAP.

"The easiest way for them ... is to have a caravan or some sort of accommodation connected to their existing premises, which then offers greater connection to their existing environment."

Mr Sali said the regional hub had been working hard at infrastructure repairs and upgrades to prepare for the tourist season.

"We were able to get all our key attractions up and running now, the lake precinct looks as good as it did before the flood event which is amazing," he said.

"One thing our community does is that they really rally behind each other."

Mr Sali said community morale was good despite the recent storms.

"These natural things that take place in some ways are a little bit uncontrollable ... but the sun is shining and we look forward to having people here over the Christmas holiday period."