About a third of Hawke’s Bay’s pipfruit crop has been wiped out by Cyclone Gabrielle, according to new estimates from New Zealand Apples and Pears.
NZAP chair Richard Punter said while Tairāwhiti Gisborne crop re-estimates are yet to be completed, the overall New Zealand crop is believed to be down 21% on January predictions, resulting in a volume of 16.1 million TCEs (tray carton equivalent).
Hawke’s Bay was the worst-affected area and the pipfruit crop in that region is down by 33%.
“This represents a reduction of 4.3 million TCEs in the Hawke’s Bay region. Crop reductions are across the range of varieties grown in the region,” Punter said.
He said it remains an anxious wait for some Hawke’s Bay orchardists to determine if their trees will recover from the battering, as silt continues to be removed from the area.
“Over the next couple of months, they’ll see whether trees will survive. The real results will be shown next year when they see what sort of crop those trees produce. It is a waiting game.”
The organisation is providing technical support to growers and has also established a website portal where resources, such as machinery or staff, can be shared.
“You’ve got this strange situation in Hawke’s Bay. You’ve got a chunk of the industry unaffected by this – materially I mean – and they’re just proceeding as normal and it’s a good crop.
“On the other side, you’ve got those who have been completely wiped out.”
Punter said the level of damage has been put into three categories: completely destroyed; completely submerged and silt-laden resulting in significant tree death; and “workable”, where orchards will have a reduced crop.
An estimated 3900ha of Hawke’s Bay’s planted area has been affected in some way by the cyclone.
Central Otago and Nelson/Tasman continue to experience good growing and harvest conditions, and are on track to meet forecast crop expectations.
While the overall NZ crop is down, exporters will provide a premium product to the market by ensuring only the best quality apples and pears are placed in the carton, as they do every year, Punter said.