28 Apr 2011

Storm hits harvests, but it could have been worse

10:15 am on 28 April 2011

Stormy weather in the central and eastern North Island has knocked out power in some rural areas, blocked roads with slips and flooding, and disrupted apple and kiwifruit harvesting.

Most of the picking has already done in the main apple-growing region, Hawke's Bay.

But Pipfruit New Zealand's technical manager,Mike Butcher, says two days of heavy rain have delayed the rest of the harvest in what's been a slow season and raised the risk of fungal diseases such as black spot.

High winds have caused some damage to fruit still on the trees, and the rain and wind have also disrupted the kiwifruit harvest in the main growing region, Bay of Plenty.

But kiwifruit growers' president Peter Ombler says it would have been worse if it had happened next month.

Grape growers have by and large escaped the effects of the storm. The harvest is over in the Gisborne region and in Hawke's Bay only a few blocks of late-variety grapes remain to be picked.