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Summerfruit May update

Posted By HBFA | June 19, 2024

HB Fruitgrowers Association Newsletter

June 2024

The Mystery Creek Fieldays have finished for another year with Summerfruit NZ having a presence on the HortNZ stand alongside NZ Apples and Pears, Potatoes NZ and some of the team from HortNZ. NZPPI (NZ Plant Producers Incorporated) and Zespri were there as well, giving a bit of a presence for Hort in the great big Ag dominated event. This was an opportunity to chat with politicians, industry organisations and potential growers. There were discussions on how warm it has been, which gave an excuse to talk about winter chilling – it is that time of the year.

Summerfruit has eight weather stations on the Portal where winter chill information can be viewed. There is also an explanation of how three models are calculated. The model that best defines deciduous fruit crops in a temperate climate is Richardson Chill Units (RCU), with the negative checkbox turned on.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have experienced some unseasonally warm temperatures, with 26°C reported on the news, so accumulation must be poor, right? But what is the data telling us? Actually, the winter chilling is as good as it’s been for the past five years, as of 18 June.

Winter chill accumulation across Hawkes Bay from 1 May to 18 June 2024

Station RCU 2024 RCU 2023 Difference 2023 to 2024 5-year average
Bay View 505 166 227 278
Twyford 501 311 156 345
Pakowhai 446 222 118 328
Lawn Road 482 238 157 325
Ruahapia Road 477 206 166 311
Havelock North 491 266 150 341
Longlands Road 412 308 87 325
Te Aute 421 201 143 278

 

Winter chill accumulation is way up on last season and better than any of the past five seasons. Experience has shown that the earlier winter chill arrives, the larger the total is likely to be, as July and August are cold with normal accumulation the norm. There will always be a warm spell or two during winter, so the blips are nothing to get too concerned about.

Having a look at accumulation around the country, this pattern is being replicated, especially in northern regions. After all, we live in the same weather patterns. Central Otago always accumulates sufficient chilling. For reference, most of our crops require 700-800 RCU for good breaking of dormancy, which suggests that we are two thirds of the way there already. With a bit more rain to top up soil moisture, we could be looking forward to some of the metrics being in our favour. For apricot growers who use dormancy enhancers, decisions will need to be made soon with regards to application timing. Good chill accumulation will enable an earlier bud break in Hawkes Bay, meaning an earlier application of these products.

In other Summerfruit NZ news, we have a new team member, with Edwin Spenser staring a couple of weeks ago. Ed will be in Hawkes Bay for the tech field day on Tuesday 2 July, 1pm to 3pm, at Camelot Fresh Fruit Company Ltd packhouse and orchard, 44 Thompson Road in Twyford. Ed will also be at the networking dinner later in the day. Summerfruit NZ Mid Year Function | Hawke’s Bay Tickets, Tue 2/07/2024 at 6:00 PM | Eventbrite.

For those that haven’t head, Kate Hellstrom, will finish working for Summerfruit NZ in September. The Board have started looking for her replacement. Kate will be at the field day and evening function.

Congratulations to all participants in the Hawkes Bay Young Fruitgrower Competition. Three of them have experience in stonefruit, which reflects the wide range of fruit and vegetables that are grown on the Heretaunga Plains. The quality of event reflects really well on HBFA and all those who make it happen.

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