As we approach the mid-point of the harvest period, labour supply dominates our thoughts more than ever. Depending on the crop, variety and size of operation, the impact of the labour shortage is affecting growers in different ways, but nearly all growers are feeling the pressure. I share the sentiments expressed by Alan Pollard in his API update and hope that ministers and officials will begin work now to avoid a repeat of this seasons’ labour shortage next year. Growers are trying to make best use of the limited labour available to optimise orchard gate returns and minimises losses. For many, this means making some tough decisions and compromising yield in order to maintain fruit quality and value. I feel for those growers who have had to walk away from blocks with little no fruit picked at all. Many packhouses are struggling to fill vacancies and this will also impact on grower returns if fruit cannot be packed and shipped to order.
On a brighter note, reports of fruit quality remain positive with exceptional colour on apples this season. Weather has been favourable for harvest, interrupted briefly by a welcome drop of rain late last week to keep trees and vines ticking along.
We are well into planning for the 2021 Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower of the Year Competition and I am really looking forward to seeing our regions talented young horticulturists challenge both themselves and their fellow competitors to take out the award and move onto the National final. There are some exciting changes to the event this year to look forward to.
For those who are still or picking or just starting their harvest, good luck and please reach out if you need help. HBFA is here to help in any way we can.