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Central Otago cherry crops ruined by rain

Heavy rains over Central Otago, which began on New Year’s Day and did not let up until about 8.30 am yesterday, causing the Fraser River to breach its banks coupled with localised runoff from the hills. This means Central Otago cherry growers have lost millions of dollars of crop after 36 hours of persistent and heavy rain destroyed yet-to-be-picked fruit.

While damage was still being assessed some growers estimate losses at between 30% and 60% and more rain is forecast.

Sunfruit Syndicate Limited Partnership shareholder Tim Paulin estimated 30%-60% damage across his cherry crops between Cromwell and Clyde. Teviot Orchard Company owner Gary Bennetts said he measured 90mm of rain over four days at his orchard near Roxburgh.

Central Otago produces about 90% of New Zealand’s cherry exports, which were worth $84.1million in the 2017-18 year and $66.2million in 2018-19.

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