Blueberry Country general manager Simon Bardon has stated that the Otautau orchard would usually start its season around new year but the wet ground meant a delay of about two weeks. However, this delay did not curb his enthusiasm for growing blueberries. Bardon said he was really excited about this season and hoped the orchard reached its target.
Despite the growing season being affected by the weather, the big stock losses in his orchard were due to birds, Mr Bardon said. The company lost on average five tonnes of blueberries a week, which meant about 10% of its production.
"I think every crop orchardist faces challenges and — yes — we are fortunate and we have not yet had to face the challenges they [Central Otago fruitgrowers] are facing. But I certainly learnt never to say never. We have been lucky, so far."
Before the season started, Bardon was worried about not finding enough workers as the majority used to be backpackers or travellers. About 100 people went to an open day at the orchard looking for a job, and Mr Bardon managed to hire 85 people for the season.
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