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Leaderbrand chief Richard Burke sees crops damaged in flood

'Farming practices have to change to adapt to increasingly volatile weather'

Last week’s flooding in Gisborne damaged Leaderbrand crops, that were due to soon be covered by a large greenhouse. The unfortunate timing has left the company cleaning up and assessing damage to its spinach, rocket and corn crops. Leaderbrand chief executive Richard Burke​​ said there could be supply gaps early next year for corn.

Some areas around Tairāwhiti Gisborne received more than 200 millimetres of rain on Thursday, which amounts to almost three times the average for November.

Farming practices have to change to adapt to increasingly volatile weather, Burke explained. “This was not the worst storm we’ve seen but weather events such as last week’s deluge of rain are becoming more frequent as the country’s climate continues to be impacted. Monitoring weather is a daily practice for us and we’re continuously looking to mitigate negative weather impacts where possible. We’re also extremely lucky to be able to distribute our crop supply across our multiple farms growing across the country.”

Leaderbrand had farms in the South Island, Matamata and Pukekohe, which allowed it to increase production as needed to ensure vegetables could still be supplied in coming weeks. Hopefully, its new greenhouse, currently under construction, will prevent crop damage from variable weather in the future.


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