7 Oct 2009

Unseasonable snow ruins vegetable crops

5:06 pm on 7 October 2009

Unseasonable snowfall and cold weather in one of the country's main vegetable growing areas are expected to leave some supermarket shelves bare.

Snow flurries hit the central North Island on Sunday, and many vegetable growers there have had their harvests halted and crops ruined by the late chill.

Up to 15cm of snow has fallen in the Ohakune area in the past three days.

Brussel sprout grower Murray Taylor says it hasn't been that deep at this time of year in decades: 1.5 half hectares that were planted a week ago are now covered in snow and will have to be dug up and thrown away.

Mr Taylor says replanting the crop will cost him up to $20,000.

Brussel sprouts are usually in supermarkets by early February, but their availability is now pushed back until March.

Asparagus grower George Turney of Mangaweka says his crop was ready to harvest, but has now turned to mush.

NIWA - the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research - says it has been some of coldest weather in 50 years for this time of the year in the lower North Island.