23 Jan 2013

Rain damage curbs cherry profits

2:02 pm on 23 January 2013

Central Otago cherry growers are still adding up losses from rain damage to fruit during harvesting this month.

The rain causes the fruit to split and growers estimate that cost them up to half the production from some varieties.

Roxburgh grower Gary Bennetts - who is also Summerfruit New Zealand's chairman - said severe frosts late last year had already caused serious damage to crops in the main growing region.

Despite the rain and cooler conditions in Central Otago, fruit quality has been good this season there and in other cherry growing regions.

Mr Bennetts says supplies of cherries and the other main summer fruit export variety, apricots, are down this year.

However other market conditions, including timing, are more favourable.

Mr Bennetts said the later harvest should work out better for exporting apricots to Australia, the biggest overseas market, where the local product is likely to be gone from the market.

And the later season for cherries should also tie in better with Chinese New Year when demand is strongest in Asian markets.