Richard Mills, Summerfruit NZ Market Support
Summerfruit NZ is in the process of selecting a new Chief Executive. We have been fortunate over the past 12 months for the expertise and knowledge Richard Palmer has imparted. Richard is back in Canberra with his family due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, and whilst communications are limited to Zoom and phone calls, even though it isn’t ideal, it works surprisingly well for the Summerfruit team. We’ve all have to adapt to new ways of integrating new systems and communications due to Covid and this really is the new norm of business moving forward.
The Chairman of the Summerfruit NZ Board will also be retiring at this year’s AGM. Tim Jones has given 12 years to the Summerfruit industry and has led us admirably through some challenging times.
Our Summerfruit Conference will be held in Napier, on the x June. This is a time reconnect with other Summerfruit growers and to become a registered voter. Growers are asked to complete a planted hectares declaration to be eligible to vote. This has been emailed to growers, and the link can be found in our weekly Prunings e-newsletter. For those who have not yet members, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
Harvest will continue for another two weeks with late plums, mostly Royal Star and Malone varieties along with Peacharines from Mangaweka. Supply from Central Otago will also be for another two or three weeks. We probably have three or four weeks of sales and then the shelf space will be freed up for apples and kiwifruit.
The labour situation is extremely tight and when we think about the soft demand for local market fruit and vegetables this summer there may well be some restructuring to occur. At this stage I have heard of two significant stonefruit blocks for sale – we shall see what transpires. Growers are now thinking about pruning and the next growing season and wondering where the skilled people are going to come from, without coming up with many answers. The same discussions are occurring with the Central Otago orchardists with similar unanswered questions.
The second part of the 2020/21 season has been challenging for local market sales after what was a relatively prosperous first part. There was a rainfall event that tuned up some apricots and cherries pre-Christmas but from then on, the weather has been warm and dry. There were big volumes grown and lots of fruit moved though the markets. To keep the prices at a reasonable level for the whole season we now need to consider volume adjustments and exporting more of the fruit.
Covid-19 labour issues will be focusing the thought processes and bringing forward decision making.