Friday, 18 December 2015 09:33

Too early to tell Nelson’s hail damage to apples

Written by 
Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard. Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard.

Nelson apple growers have suffered significant losses from hail on Wednesday – some the size of 50c pieces.

But the industry will need at least a week to assess the cost of damage, Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard says.

"Our Nelson apple growers have suffered significant losses from the hail with some blocks wiped out, but it is too early to tell the full extent of the damage,"

"Our experience last year shows growers can still achieve a high quality export crop off an orchard struck by hail," says Pollard.

Last year severe hail storms hit Nelson, Central Otago and Hawke's Bay, and while growers feared the worse, the industry still produced New Zealand's record $630 million apple crop.

Pollard says a Pipfruit New Zealand team will be on the ground in Nelson working together to support the close-knit grower community, which represents about 27% of the country's overall apple and pear crop.

"Our thoughts are with all affected Nelson growers. We will be assisting to quantify the damage over the coming week.

"But at this stage, with increased plantings coming on stream and a bumper crop on the trees in unaffected orchards and in New Zealand's other growing regions, we would expect similar national export volumes to last year going to our international markets, and therefore a similar national export result," he says.

"Every year growers deal with a number of challenges including those thrown at us by Mother Nature, but we work through it.

"There is very high demand for New Zealand apples so we will take our time and assess the damage and work on maximising the crop we can get off affected blocks.

"The industry is always stretched to find enough labour to pick our crop. With likely extra thinning now required, we do not expect this hail to result in job losses."

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