Wednesday, 14 February 2024 09:25

Kiwifruit sector far more optimistic

Written by  Peter Burke
NZKGI boss Colin Bond believes kiwifruit growers have reason to be optimistic about the future of their industry. NZKGI boss Colin Bond believes kiwifruit growers have reason to be optimistic about the future of their industry.

Things are looking really promising at this stage for the 2024 kiwifruit harvest.

That's the view of Colin Bond, head of the NZ kiwifruit growers' organisation - NZKGI. He says there is excitement amongst growers at an industry level. But Bond adds that they are hearing about a few growers who are still suffering impacts of last year's cyclone and weather.

Bond told Hort News that they are hearing about a few examples of vine stress and fruit drop, mainly in the Tairāwhiti region. He says this region initially didn't appear to be badly affected but now vine stress is starting to show.

He says some orchards in Hawke's Bay have a long road to recovery and there are also problems at some orchards in Coromandel.

"But in most other growing regions things are looking really positive," he says. "For most growers there is a very good crop hanging and we have had a very positive growing season, relative to the last few years. We are cautiously optimistic that we are going to have great season ahead."

However, Bond says they won't know exactly what the crop is like until it is finally picked. Having said that, he's hopeful they can get back to the 180 million trays that the industry produced in 2021.

In terms of payments to growers for last season's crop, Bond says these will be low and the expectation is that a high number of growers will only break even for the 2023 season. He says Zespri did a great job selling the fruit at good prices, but in the end it was the lack of fruit that could be picked from orchards which determined returns.

Bond thinks the last two years have been some of the most challenging on record, but while these were particularly bad years, there have been good times. He says post PSA were some of the best years on record.

Bond told Hort News growers have reason to be optimistic about the future of their industry. He believes there are practical things that growers can do to mitigate the effects of climate change.

"I think weather is at the foremost of growers minds and we see more of them making active decisions about what they do to protect themselves from adverse weather," he explains. "Such things as frost protection, irrigation, hail netting and shelter belts for wind. These are practical steps that growers can take."

Bond says more growers are talking about diversification, including growing in multiple areas.

"There are more conversations about people owning shares in their packhouse or Zespri and some are thinking about having ventures outside of kiwifruit as well."

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