Avocado growers at front of exports

By Annette Lambly

Solid crops and strong prices this season should be a welcome shot in the arm for Northland avocado growers.

About 60 per cent of the 1.2 million trays exported nationally came out of Northland for the season's harvest, which ended in late January.

John Carroll, director of Primor - a major New Zealand exporting company for the regions - said the Far North and Whangarei/Mangawhai had good crops this season.

The Northland fruit has been slighter smaller than historically, but the quantity exported from Northland has doubled from last seasons's 30 per cent of the total industry.

Mr Carroll predicted a net return of between $15-$20 a tray, equating to between $11 million and $14.7 million to Northland growers.

In comparison, the Bay of Plenty crops - New Zealand's other major avocado export region - have been disappointing, partly due to the trees' natural cycles, which see crops heavier some years than others.

Mr Carroll would not speculate whether the recent heavy flooding in Queensland would mean better prices for New Zealand, saying it was too early to tell.

He said because of the harvesting time differences between New Zealand (September to January) and Australia (May to July) any impact would not be felt until late in the year.

Bundaberg, one of Australia's biggest avocado areas, was hit by the floods, but it is not the only area to grow avocado.

Mr Carroll said unless trees were uprooted or significantly damaged, the trees would potentially have time to recover before harvesting began in May, although crops could be lighter than the predicted moderate season before the floods.

- Northern Advocate

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