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News » 13.01.2021 - Heavy rain caused major damage to cherry crop in New Zealand

According to the release of Summerfruit NZ, the industry body that represents growers of cherries, apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines, Central Otago's (New Zealand) cherry harvest is devastated by rain.


Just after New Year, cherry growers received a blow in the form of heavy rain that seriously damaged the fruit, which were about to be harvested. The full extent of the damage has yet to be quantified, but according to the release, up to 50% of this season's bumper cherry crop is expected to have been lost due to splitting, resulting in a $50 million loss in export revenue for New Zealand. Moreover to heavy rain that damaged the fruit, the flood damaged buildings on orchards around Earnscleugh when the Fraser River overflowed its banks. The impact caused by weather events is not confined to this season, as damage to trees will affect the next season's crop.


Despite the fact that summerfruit growers are well aware of the role the weather plays in their livelihoods, and prepare to mitigate it when it does, there had not been persistent and heavy rainfall in 40 years.


Richard Palmer, executive chief of Summerfruit NZ, shared that growers are losing a lot of their crop, and it is incredibly sad to see. They are working hard to harvest the remainder of the crop. And with good weather ahead there is still more work for pickers and packers.


Damage to other summerfruit crops, such as apricot, plum, peach and nectarine appears to be rather limited. The remaining cherry harvest provides an ongoing opportunity for some harvest staff. The viticulture sector is also looking to hire more workers to provide employment for cherry pickers.


"We are working hard to assess what the impact will be on both orchards and the workers, and are looking at how we can keep people in work for the summerfruit harvest followed by apple, pear and grape harvests," added Palmer.


In despite of the ongoing rain and uncertainty, a full freighter with 100 tons of cherries on board recently set off for Taipei.


Summerfruit NZ is the industry body of New Zealand that represents the interests of approximately 280 cherry, apricot, peach, plum and nectarine growers. It provides strategic direction and focus by building strong relationships between growers, retailers, exporters and marketers. Summerfruit NZ works both nationally and regionally to promote its industry to consumers.




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