A VALE grower has been left with a smaller crop of fruit this summer after hail the size of gobstoppers left his plums battered and bruised.

Stuart Nightingale, of Nightingale Orchards, Longdon Hill, Wickhamford, was expecting a bumper crop this year of large plums.

But the hail storm of Saturday, August 2, damaged and bruised most of the later varieties of plums on the trees, like the Victoria.

He said: "Having spoken to other orchard owners around the Vale of Evesham, they are in the same position. I am finding nine out of 10 plums damaged whilst picking. There is going to be a shortage of good quality local plums for the rest of the season.

"Some orchard owners say they are not going to try picking any at all but I will still have some plums to sell to my customers in my seasonal farm shop as some plums on the lower branches of my trees seem ok.

"It's just one of those things. The hail was the size of gobstoppers. Initially it just seemed to have made a little mark, but that rotted. It's a shame because they were big this year."