Apple production and exports continue to increase in New Zealand. Apple exports are forecast to be up four percent at 405,000 metric tons in 2019/2020, following a six percent increase in 2018/2019. New plantings of deciduous fruit trees continue to expand the total planted area by three to four percent per year.
Harvested area forecast at 10,180 hectares
Apple production area in New Zealand is continuing to expand. For 2019/2020, harvested area is forecast at 10,180 hectares (ha), a nearly four percent increase over 2018/2019. However, the rationale behind further increases in planted and harvested area may be weakening. Previously, orchard expansion was driven by good market prices and the expectation of better productivity and higher prices from intensive plantings of new high-color and sweeter varieties.
However, now constraints include the severe shortage of suitable land with water availability in the largest apple region, Hawkes Bay, and new environmental regulations being proposed that are likely to increase operating costs and may restrict land-use change rights over the whole country.
FAS/Wellington is forecasting 2019/2020 apple production at 598,000 metric tons (MT), 3.7 percent greater than 2018/2019. Primarily the increase is due to the expanded harvested area. However, production prospects are likely to be tempered by a few factors including: lower yields likely from the younger first harvest trees; an already anticipated harvest labor shortage; and the late removal of Braeburn trees following the very poor export prices achieved in 2018/2019.