NZ: Tasman storm damage hits apple growers hard

Severe storms in the Tasman region of New Zealand last week have hit fruit growers in the region hard, with early reports indicating some apple blocks have been almost entirely wiped out.

Apple grower Simon Easton says the damage looked worse than in 2014, when hail and storms hit the region in November.

“It’s pretty severe. There’s more damage than last year because it’s later in the season, so the fruit’s bigger and the damage is worse,” he says.

“Growers are still assessing blocks and deciding whether export or processing is the best option at this stage.”

Mr Easton – who is also chairman of the Motueka Fruit Growers Association – says some blocks had up to 85-90% fruit damage, but then some growers had only a small percentage of their crop affected by the storms.

“The majority of the apple region and Nelson has been affected. I don’t know too many that haven’t been hit to some degree this year,” he says.

With growers already paid for this season, Mr Easton says the full financial impact of the damage won’t be known until the middle of next year, but expects it to be worse than the damage done by the storms in 2014.

While it’s still too early to estimate volumes in the wake of the latest storm damage, Mr Easton says some areas weren’t as badly affected as others.

“All our farms have been touched by the storms this year…we’ll probably lose around 30% of our crop,” he says.

“But we have one farm that didn’t really get hit this year, which was totally hit last year, so it’s just a total about-face in that regard.”

He says growers have also come together to support each other as tough calls are made about different blocks.

“We just talk amongst ourselves and reassure each other that we’re not alone. All of us have been affected so we help each other out, you gotta keep your chin up.”

While the damage will have an impact on volumes this season, Mr Easton says he doesn’t think it will affect the health of the apple trees or future yields for growers in the region.

For more information
Simon Easton
Motueka Fruit Growers Association
Tel: +6421312845

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