As the 2022/23 season comes to an end, we look forward to the new growing season that is upon us. Stonefruit are already in blossom with apples and pears not far behind in green tip. It’s always a great sight to see the fruit trees spring back to life after a few months in their dormant stage. This will be a particularly welcome sight for those of our growers whose orchards were damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle – provided of course that they still have trees standing.
There is still an element of the unknown when it comes to how the trees will perform where flood water inundated blocks. Many of them experienced prolonged waterlogging, huge amounts of residual silt, or both. Blossom time is when trees are most stressed; this is the time when some trees will survive, and others will not. Trees that were under water or wet silt for too long will likely struggle to survive. I’m hopeful these casualties will be at a minimum for our growers who have been through enough already.
As I drive around, I am encouraged to see some orchards that were badly impacted by the floods now totally cleared of silt and debris with many blocks grassed down. Some blocks have been pulled out and re-planted and others will hopefully be replanted next year or whenever new trees are available. We are told that this year will be an El Niño weather system. I’m sure most growers will be pleased to see the back of so much rain and look forward to a dryer growing season. Because so much of what we do is weather dependent, smart irrigation management will likely be critical this year for producing quality fruit.
It will take some time for our industry to recover, but we will, and we will grow back better, bigger, and stronger than ever. I take heart from our kiwifruit grower peers in the Bay of Plenty; when PSA hit their region and orchards in 2010, their entire industry was threatened, but with innovation and new varieties, they have recovered to become a multibillion-dollar industry.
We have our AGM on Wednesday 20th September – all members are welcome to come and hear what HBFA have been doing for the last 12 months and what we are working on now and into the future.