It's shaping up to be another record year for the New Zealand apple crop in terms of volume, and indications are that quality will also be high, according to Pipfruit NZ's Gary Jones.
Jones - the industry body's New Zealand business development manager, told the Herald the harvest had started a little later than usual, thanks to the late arrival of spring.
Packing houses were gearing up this week and he expected activity to accelerate quickly next week. The harvest carries on through to May.
While much of the country had endured an unsettled summer, the weather in the apple growing heartland of the Hawke's Bay had been ideal, he said.
In terms of quality, the apple crop was recording very high levels of sugar and soluble solids.
"It is looking like the highest quality year that we have had for a very long time," Jones said.
The crop, which is expected to come to 390,400 tonnes - will be the highest ever, building on last year's record.
The pipfruit industry has set a target of achieving $1 billion in exports by 2020 and is well on the way toward achieving that, Pipfruit NZ says.
Last year, New Zealand apple growers have launched "Dazzle" - a new variety which they see as being the biggest development since the launch of Royal Gala some decades ago.
Fruitcraft, a collaboration between three of New Zealand's largest growers - Scales Corp's Mr Apple, Bostock New Zealand and Freshmax - has been granted the master licensing rights for production and marketing of the variety worldwide, it said.
NZX-listed Scales will report its annual result on February 28.