Sector Reports, August

Posted By HBFA | August 12, 2020


TANK and Methyl Bromide EPA Hearing

Two pressing issues on the NZAPI calendar currently are a submission to HBRC regarding Plan Change 9 (TANK) and a hearing with the EPA on the reassessment of Methyl Bromide.

Regarding Plan Change 9, the submission will be in support of the Horticulture NZ submission and will cover off on the specificity of Pipfruit production.

In the EPA hearing on the reassessment of Methyl Bromide, NZAPI will support recapture to 80% instead of the current recapture proposal to 5ppm. The Pipfruit sector uses less than 0.1% of the total Methyl Bromide use in New Zealand and at half the loading. We currently rely on this treatment for access of our apples into Japan, due to Codling Moth being a quarantine pest, but are actively working with MPI, and are investing in R&D, to secure the acceptance of the systems approach as an alternative to Methyl Bromide fumigation for access to Japan.

Seasonal Labour

Ministerial, Immigration and MSD meetings are being held to ensure there is maximum flexibility to access seasonal workers for this season. This includes other categories of visa holders such as working holiday scheme and student visas. RSE workers may not be able to return into New Zealand for an indeterminate length of time and it could be assumed that key decisions will not be made until after the election. Generally, there are four ongoing discussions with Government on the future of the RSE programme for 2020/2021. These are:

NZAPI will continue to provide updates to industry as they become available.

Richard Mills, Summerfruit NZ Market Support 

By the time you read this there will be plenty of summer fruit blooming or about to do so. I have photos of nectarine trees in full bloom on the 20th of July but they are one of those oddball varieties that has low chill requirements and will be harvested at the end of November.

The early flowering Mayglo mentioned above would seem to be reacting in a normal manner to a normal winter chill season in Bay View. Our Gisborne and Wairoa growers will be a little more advanced than those in Hawkes Bay. Chilling around the rest of the area would seem to be normal or a little bit shy of average accumulation but I am not expecting any negative reaction from the trees. We seem to be in a warm spell at the moment, but as my old boss would comment, that this is normal somewhere during the winter.

Despite the settled weather we’ve enjoyed, the request still stands for growers to be careful with insecticide drift in apple and kiwifruit blocks. Members of the general public are active in spotting our misdemeanors and reporting them to the authorities and rightly so.

There is now enough water in the top part of the soil profile after the significant dry, so it’s steady as we go at this stage.

It has been thought-provoking as an interested bystander to become engaged in the TANK change process. We are fortunate to have some very good people who have been advocating on the behalf of growers. It’s Summerfruit NZ’s view that we will support Hort NZ’s submission and encourage growers to forward their own views and case studies, as we should be all singing from the same song book. This is serious stuff and I hope many of you made submissions. Meetings have had reasonable numbers attending and asking questions but the Zoom meetings had fewer attendees. Post Covid-19 these remote meetings have become much more the norm and I imagine will continue to be so.

The removal of trees is obvious around the plains and I think there will be a smaller area in summer fruit once the redevelopment has finished. This seems to be a continuing pattern which is entirely reasonable when one considers the relative strength of apple and kiwi returns. With the smaller volumes of Hawkes Bay summer fruit on the local market last year, as a result of the October hail storm, prices were firmer than in the previous two seasons. I will follow with interest this season to see where the price/demand-supply equation lands.

Whilst Hawke’s Bay may have fewer summer fruit trees in the ground there is potentially the biggest cherry crop ever coming from Central Otago. Last year was a light crop due to a late frost so the trees may well rebound with a big bloom, and planting has been significant over the last few years. With the probability of fewer workers, especially backpackers, and with limited air freight capacity for the export crop, we are watching this space very carefully. Will there be heaps of cheap cherries on the market in the New Year or not? Our local cherry growers may not be impacted but the peach, nectarine and plum growers will be watching carefully.

At a national level Summerfruit NZ has been though an industry review and is working though what this will mean. The Commodity Levy has been approved at Government level and the AGM set an unchanged levy rate.

We are looking forward with interest and hope to a new but challenging start to the season; and is that not always the case.

Richard Pentreath,  KGI Lower North Island Representative

The recent fine weather has provided a welcome opportunity to catch up on winter vine work in the orchard after the prolonged wet spell in July.  As sap flow begins this month, growers are encouraged to monitor for Psa symptoms and mark and/or remove infected material from the orchard.  Whilst summer 2019/2020 had very few high risk Psa infection events, the KVH risk model shows that Psa infection risk in the months of June and July was high in Hawkes Bay relative to previous seasons.  Predictions of bud break timing point to a similar date to last season although temperatures between now and September can also affect the timing of bud break.

Last month the IAC (Industry Advisory Council) voted to reinstate full Kiwistart payments for fruit that was submitted prior to the 25th of March (when normal fruit maturity testing was still available) with a small deduction to reflect the increase in fruit value received across the pool from non-allocated Kiwistart payments.  This is good news for Hawkes Bay growers that target the early supply period.

Zespri reports that the season continues to track well to plan at a global level from both a volume and value point of view, with sales in Europe and Korea particularly strong.

In total, 77.5 million trays have now been delivered this year to date, well ahead of the 71 million trays delivered at the same point last year.

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