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Bay of Plenty could lose kiwifruit pole position in warming world

Optimal NZ kiwifruit production areas might shift

Climate change is coming for an New Zealand’s kiwifruit exports, with Zespri reporting rising temperatures could disrupt the consistent growth of kiwifruit in the coming decades. Possibly, the current locations most suitable for cultivating kiwifruit could shift around the country. In high-emissions scenarios, the Bay of Plenty and Northland would become too warm for consistent and high-quality fruit production while Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and even Canterbury would become new centers for growth.

One of the main issues in growing kiwifruit is that the plants need to be chilled to a certain temperature over winter. As average temperatures rise, it becomes less and less likely the plants are chilled for long enough. A change in average temperatures also makes cold extremes less likely, further reducing chilling opportunities but potentially protecting flowers from frost.

Zespri also identified winter chilling as a high-priority risk in a 2021 disclosure on climate-related risks. By 2050, temperature increases of 1 to 1.5 degrees could "prevent consistent bud-break and king flower production in primary growing regions".


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