Small fruit but high quality

Summer fruit orchardist Derek Barnes says this season's dry weather has produced smaller fruit sizes but the quality of varieties being harvested at the moment was "exceptional".

"This is the best summer fruit season we've had in many, many years. We have fruit with good flavour, good quality, low risk of disease and it's been one of those vintage years for summer fruit."

Mr Barnes, who grows summer fruit on his orchard at Ngatarawa Rd, said the harvest season began about four weeks ago and was early by about a week on some varieties.

"The market is short, but the fruit is good this year and all varieties are selling well. It hasn't been a huge crop, there has been some hail around the district, and frost has effected some blocks as well.

"So consequently, fruit set has been light in some varieties, meaning the flowers on the plant have not produced fruit after pollination. So all that adds up to lower volumes but higher quality, and higher demand in many varieties."

Kiwifruit was also performing well, with only two cases of the Psa disease reported in Hawke's Bay.

Hopefully it would not spread on to other properties.

Mr Barnes, who is one of two Hawke's Bay representatives for Summerfruit New Zealand, said water was also an issue.

"The lack of water earlier this season, when it would have normally rained, has meant the size of the fruit is smaller but the quality has been exceptional.

"Early crops would normally be immune from the dry weather because they are being picked first. But anything from mid-December onwards would have required irrigation or the size of the fruit would be down.

"We always get a bit of rain which fixes the fruit size but this year it didn't happen like that."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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