21 Dec 2012

Central Otago cherries late, but Marlborough harvest well underway

8:23 pm on 21 December 2012

A late season means that cherries from the main growing region of Central Otago are in shorter supply for Christmas this year.

Roxburgh grower Gary Bennetts, who also chairs Summerfruit New Zealand, says the harvest is running a week or two behind due to a cool spring and grey skies.

He says, however, further north, growers in Cromwell and Alexandra could be harvesting this weekend.

Mr Bennetts says fruit quality looks "pretty good if not better" than usual although the sugar levels in earlier varieties might be lower in sugars due to a lack of photosynthesis caused by the cloudy conditions.

In contrast, Marlborough is having one of its best seasons in years and harvesting of the crop of the crop began in November.

Blenheim cherry grower Paul Kinzett the weather has been very favourable in the region and while the quantity is a little down, that means the fruit on the trees are of a good size.

Split fruit due to rain is a common problem in Marlborough cherries but Mr Kinzett says that has not been a problem this year.

Meanwhile, cherry growers say demand has been good, both on the domestic market and in Asian export markets.