The volume of kiwifruit harvested this season will be down on previous predictions because of the drought, a kiwifruit packing boss says.

Aongatete Coolstores in Katikati is one of the first post-harvest kiwifruit operators in the Bay of Plenty to start packing this season, with packing beginning yesterday.

Managing director Allan Dawson said, along with orchards in the Gisborne and Matapihi areas, coastal Katikati orchards were normally amongst the first to begin harvesting fruit.

Aongatete was expecting to pack just under three million trays this year, down from 3.2 million trays last year and 3.5 million trays in 2011.


While some of the drop in volume was caused by Psa, this year's drought was the unexpected factor that had reduced the harvest expectation, Mr Dawson said.

"The biggest factor that we hadn't budgeted in is the drought and the smaller fruit size. The effect of the drought has meant that most growers' fruit sizes are smaller than we would have hoped for and that has an effect on the total volume as well."

Kiwifruit grower Ian McCormack, who farms a 14ha orchard north of Katikati, started harvesting his fruit yesterday afternoon. He expected to harvest his entire crop, about 100,000 trays of kiwifruit, by the end of the week.

The drought had impacted on fruit size and total volume, Mr McCormack said.

"The quality of the fruit is awesome but the size just isn't there."

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri expected to export approximately 86 million trays of kiwifruit this season.