Hail cannons, or Anti-Hail cannons, in a sense, are a new technology to agriculture. Although originating in the 18th century, they have been modernized greatly over the past thirty years - the latter 10 being the most significant. These cannons are designed to disrupt the growth phase of hail by emitting a shockwave directly above the cannon. The cannons are comprised of two parts:
1) The combustion chamber - this is where the acetylene gas and air is ignited to initiate the soundwave.
2) The cone - this is directly connected to the combustion chamber and funnels the acetylene discharge (soundwave) directly above the cannon and can potentially protect 190 acres from hail damage.
In theory, these crop saving machines seem to resolve the potential hail threat that generally occurs in the spring. Developing fruit is particularly susceptible to scarring at this stage, as a small mark from a hail stone will grow with the fruit into a large cosmetic defect. This scarred fruit is, at best, sold as a utility grade. Often it is discarded and will never even reach the market. Worst case scenario, the fruit is not even utility grade quality and must be left in the field to rot, resulting in job loss and decreased volumes in the market. This translates into higher prices for you and your customers, and a deficit for the farmers affected by the hail damage.
The basic idea behind the cannons is that when the acetylene gas is ingited, the combustion releases soundwaves, which reverberate up the funnel and are focused into the storm clouds. These waves hit the hailstones as they are forming or during their growing stage, shaking them to keep them from freezing. The water still falls, but in a form that will not damage the crops below.
Written by Jake Diepersloot