Kiwifruit harvest kicks off across New Zealand
There is increasing activity in New Zealand’s kiwifruit orchards as the picking and packing of kiwifruit gets underway, according to New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI).
The organization said small volumes had just started to be harvested in Northland and Poverty Bay and will extend throughout the North Island and top of the South Island over the coming weeks.
More than 2,500 growers will be harvesting some 12,000 hectares of kiwifruit which will be marketed to over 50 countries.
Harvest is expected to begin in the next few days in the Bay of Plenty where around 80% of New Zealand’s kiwifruit are grown, NZKGI said.
The harvest of the SunGold variety for this season is expected to be 'significantly more' than last year, while the green Hayward variety is forecasted to be less.
But the group added that although the total volumes were down from last season, it was still shaping up to be a 'good harvest.'
“New Zealand has some of the best growing conditions in the world for kiwifruit and we are looking forward to more good volumes," NZKGI chairperson Doug Brown said.
"Many areas were affected by wet weather which has delayed the start of harvest, but most of us can now roll up our sleeves and get picking and packing. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all growers a happy and safe harvest."
Around 10,000 permanent workers are employed in the kiwifruit industry with an additional 8,000 seasonal workers who pick and pack kiwifruit.
The group added that of these seasonal workers, 'a small minority' were Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers who played a 'crucial role' as the industry continues to face labor shortages.
The kiwifruit industry is recovering from being hit by [vine disease] Psa in 2010 and has been growing strongly with Zespri’s total sales returns for the 2015/16 season around $2 billion dollars," NZKGI said.
"As New Zealand’s largest fresh fruit horticultural export, the kiwifruit industry also profits the regions where it is grown, for example, bringing around $910 million to the Bay of Plenty annually."