Richard Mills, Summerfruit NZ Market Support
Last month I commented on the warm and dry conditions, in which case nothing has changed on that front apart from being hot and dry. We seem to have got through most of the stonefruit harvest thanks to the students being available, but of course that is now changing. Main crop peach and nectarine harvest will finish in Hawke’s Bay soon and we will then be selling stored product for another couple of weeks. Plum harvest will go for at least another month.
Fruit size in part has not always been what was expected and on reflection this may have something to do with the spring temperatures around shuck fall and the dry conditions from mid-December onwards.
The quality of the fruit has been excellent as has been the quantity, perhaps too big for the prevailing market demand in New Zealand. There is lots of produce from all sectors available and has been the situation from about a week post New Year, the demand across all grocery lines is soft and spongy. Why this is the case, has been difficult to pinpoint, so I suppose we can blame Covid-19!
The total volume of fruit sold is likely to be up on this time last year, but we will wait a bit longer to get a more informed picture. A good part of that may well be due to Central Otago cherries being early, and early enough to make the New Zealand Christmas market. As I watch the trucks with apples start to roll into the pack houses, I hope that the overseas markets treat apples and then kiwifruit with better returns.
For the Summerfruit growers in Hawke’s Bay who have had a good season, spare a thought for our mates in Central Otago who have had one to forget; unhelpful weather, a full New Zealand market and then for the reasonably significant gate sales trade, a lack of tourists passing through Central Otago. I was there a month ago and really appreciated the big country not being crammed with tourist buses. Jones’s fruit shop is always a delight to visit as you come into Cromwell from Queenstown and now you can actually move around in there.
Put aside some time for the Summerfruit NZ conference to be held in Napier on the 9th and 10th of June. The agenda is yet to be finalised and will be available on the Summerfruit NZ website in coming months. SummerGreen will be holding a seminar in May with the theme of exporting cherries from Hawke’s Bay. We look forward to hosting a range of technical and marketing speakers and welcome interest from potential exhibitors.
In the coming weeks and months we are participating in some carbon sequestering work, regenerative agriculture seminars and the A-Lighter-Touch initiative. It’s all longer term, slow-burning projects that will help inform us of government policy and back the other way- help us shape policy.
And back to the weather. Don’t forget your stonefruit trees post-harvest, I’m sure they would like a nice big long cool drink as much as we do.