The industry is growing so fast that Hawke's Bay is producing more export apples now than the whole country was five years ago APPLE BLOOM: Bostock NZ orchard manager Fulton Gillies, who says the apple orchard blossom this spring is some of the best ever seen in Hawke's Bay, offering another record season in 2016.
Hopes of a boom apple season are starting to bear fruit with what industry veterans say are some of the best blossoms "on record" on orchards around Hawke's Bay.
It's good news following early predictions that the annual crop could take a dip, following the 18.5 million-carton yield of the latest season.
Bostock New Zealand orchard manager Fulton Gillies said a cold, dry winter had been good for the apple orchards and the hot, sunny weather this season has provided the perfect conditions for pollination. The Royal Gala, Fuji and Diva apple varieties finish in full bloom this week.
"We had a lot of winter chilling which means we have a tighter bloom and strong bud breaks which is ideal for the fruit coming on," he said.
"We have been averaging over 20 degrees each day, so the bees have been out working hard, pollinating our orchards. It's been perfect to set us up for both a high quality and high yielding crop."
Forecasts for one of the driest summers on record are, however, pushing orchard managers into action to prepare for a big dry.
Bostock NZ is ensuring it has it irrigation systems in place and working well to manage water.
A hot, dry summer bring many benefits, reducing the risk of disease and improving the quality of the fruit, Mr Gillies said.
"When its hot and dry we expect good sugar, colour and storage. Bright red, sweet juicy apples that store well are exactly what our markets are looking for so the confidence levels are high in Hawke's Bay at the moment."
Pipfruit NZ is at this stage forecasting a 2016 season similar to that of the recently complete 2015 season, but business development manager Gary Jones say it's the value that is most impressive, along with Hawke's Bay's part in it.
After record apple export receipts from the apple trade of $536 million, it's now tracking toward $600 million for the latest season, close to doubling in five years. Returns per carton are already well over 30 per cent greater than in 2010.
Potential is highlighted by the registering of 450ha more export apple plantings for next season, and Hawke's Bay is producing more than all of New Zealand was producing five years ago, Mr Jones said.
"It is New Zealand's fastest-growing export industry," he said.
Pipfruit NZ is currently completing surveys which are expected to bolster confidence that the goal of a billion-dollar annual export by 2022 will be reached well before the target.