I was recently reminded that by this time last season parts of the Heretaunga Plains had had a hailstorm or two and a significant frost. So far, we have been in a more benign climate all be it windy.
Bees have been able to get out and about and do their job on most cultivars. Growing degree days are good if not a little above what might be expected, and yet there is reports of fruitlets dropping.
Orchardists have been working hard to keep trees alive so that they are in better health for coming seasons but it’s not unusual to see trees that have woken up in spring and then died. Keeping trees alive seems like a good move as replacements could be hard to come by for a few years, even though they might not be the best producing units.
Every scenario that you can think of is out there. There are blocks where bloom has looked fantastic, necessitating chemical and hand thinning. For others crop loads are going to be about right, and a bit light for others. With the expected dry and warm summer; big, sweet fruit should be on the way. If not, then we will be left wondering how badly the last growing season impacted on this year’s tree health.
Recent visits to the Auckland markets highlighted a couple of points. Firstly, this season’s crop is being looked forward to by both wholesale and retail, and by extension the consumers. Point two was the impressive coolchain capability developed over the off-season by T&G and the big new Countdown DC in Wiri. If we can send fruit at the right temperature that is big and sweet there is plenty of good news to look forward to. Should you have a good crop setting on the trees there is even more to look forward to.
Last season saw a lift in the wholesale and retail prices, on the back of a short supply from Hawkes Bay. It seems as though we are in a similar situation for this year but with, potentially, a different set of quality parameters. As usual it will be interesting.
Summerfruit Technical Advisor