New Zealand apple growers are now harvesting the first Galas of the new season. “It’s been a fabulous year,” says Luis Gonzales with Vanguard International. Overall, weather has been spectacular for the main apple growing regions in the country. “The South Island growing regions that typically receive hail managed to escape those conditions during peak growing periods,” Gonzales shared. “North Island regions did get hit with one significant hailstorm in the early stages of flowering when the apples were not yet developed,” he added. “The impacts of this storm are seen in off-shape apples that will be clear to identify on the packing line and will not impact overall shipment quality.”
“For the most part, it has been mild and cool in all regions, which allows for fruit to pick up exceptional color in the early growing stages.” Temperatures have warmed in early February, with highs in the range of 25-29 degrees Celsius. “These warmer temperatures helped the apples develop better sugars in time for harvest, and these conditions have led to an advantageous color and quality.” In addition, the New Zealand apple industry is expected to grow larger apples and larger quantities this season to achieve a crop estimate of 22.9mm cartons. With apples peaking on larger sizes, Vanguard is anticipating the production increase to be around 10 to 15 percent.
Growers choose to plant Asia-preferred varieties
There is a slight concern about Gala sizing being too large and impacting the ordinarily smaller fruit supply preferred by the Asian markets. In addition, the larger sizing will have an impact on bin yields. As a result, growers continue to pull out pears, Braeburns, and New Zealand Rose varieties with a focus on planting varieties that are preferred by Asian and other global markets such as the Middle East and Europe. “They choose to plant varieties that are identified by better color, crunch, and sugars that includes new full-colored Galas, Dazzle, and Cherish.
With a promising harvest ahead, the only concern left to bare is over the state of the markets to receive New Zealand apple shipments. “Challenges persist in the face of shipping backlogs resulting from the holiday season and from the effects of the Coronavirus. These are the hurdles an ever-resilient New Zealand industry will overcome in the coming months.”