Michael Franks - Seeka

“It’s been a tough run for the SunGold harvest but the post-harvest teams have pushed through"

The New Zealand kiwifruit harvest has faced challenges this season due to the restrictions put in place due Covid-19, but the SunGold harvest is nearing completion and the focus is now turning to the Hayward harvest.

“It’s been a tough run for the SunGold harvest but the post-harvest teams have pushed through, despite being short-staffed to get the job done,” said Michael Franks Seeka CEO. “Our packhouses will switch to Hayward this week."

Seeka has packed 14.6m trays almost 20% of the country's total (76.0m).

Labour has been in short supply but Seeka has worked with the apple industry to source RSE workers from the in Hawkes Bay and the New Zealand Government has enabled these workers to extend their VISA and travel to the kiwifruit regions to work. These workers have completed their program and would normally go home but can’t due to the travel restrictions.

“We are utilising them in the interim, and hopefully they will stick around until we complete winter pruning. There is potentially over 300 coming. These workers are going to need to be trained but at least give us the resources to undertake the winter pruning."

The New Zealand harvest now will turn its attention to Hayward.

“Maturity is a little later than last year, warm weather has seen the fruit continue to grow, brix’s are high but when you take into account the higher dry matter in the fruit, maturity not so high. The teams will turn all capacity to the Hayward and we expect to complete harvest during the first week of June or earlier. This is a fantastic effort as 7 weeks ago it was not clear whether we would be able to harvest fruit during alert level 4 at all.”

Seeka has already packed 4.4m trays of Hayward, 28% of the 15m industry total so far.

The SeekaFresh business is focusing on the export of class 2 kiwifruit to Australia.

"In New Zealand the team has been serving our customers from our New Zealand wholesale floor. In spite of a large number of customers closed through this time, and the floor effectively closed to foot traffic, the business has traded really well. The business has gone pretty well really and the avocado and kiwiberry returns to growers are really good."

Australian harvest

Seeka’s Australian kiwifruit harvest is about halfway through with 3,800 bins harvested. Fruit volume is good, profile a little small. According to Franks, the team is doing a great job in managing their harvest and getting fruit to market. Bagged and punnet packed fruit is well sought after.

Seeka’s orchards are in Shepparton where there has been 260mls of rain so far this year whereas last year there had been only 61mls at the same time.

“There is a La Nina negative IOD happening in Australia, which means warmer seas and more chance of rain. It’s the first time in a long time that the vines are heading into winter with moisture in the soil and not bone dry. Like New Zealand the Australians have got to a really good place with COVID19 but via a different pathway. Our team has done a really good job and expect the harvest to complete there about the same time as New Zealand.”

For more information:
Michael Franks
Tel: +64 7573 0303
Email: mfranks@seeka.co.nz   

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