New Zealand's apple production and exports to hit “record low” in 2023
New Zealand’s apple production is projected to drop significantly to 453,000 metric tons (MT), as crop damage from Cyclone Gabrielle continues to negatively impact agriculture in the country.
According to a recent report by the USDA, the cyclone hit just as the harvest was starting, and thousands of hectares were either completely washed away by floods or covered in silt.
The report states that 840 hectares destined to apple production were completely destroyed and will require a full redevelopment, while another 1,260 hectares will see significant tree death.
Although efforts and initiatives are already underway in the region to try and recover trees and infrastructure, the impacts to the industry are anticipated to have multi-year effects.
Both apple production and exports in 2022-23 are expected to fall to the lowest levels since 2009-10.
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Additionally, the forecast for New Zealand harvested area was sharply reduced from 10,300 hectares last year to 8,900 hectares this year.
The destruction left Gabrielle’s tow has been regarded as the deadliest weather event to hit the country since 1968, with the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne regions registering the most extensive damage.
Intense winds and rain caused huge landslides and flooding, which for the apple industry in particular resulted in wide-spread destruction of orchards and infrastructure, in addition to immense buildup of silt in vast areas.
The New Zealand government announced a $46 million relief fund for growers.