Overall, the outlook is good and the industry in Hawke's Bay is still growing. There are bare-land blocks still being planted.

The long, hot summer created a challenge for pipfruit growers in Hawke's Bay this year.

Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers' Association pipfruit sector chairwoman Lisa Edgarton said warm days and nights early in the harvest season meant some early varieties such as Royal Gala struggled for colour development. However, this improved as the season progressed and later varieties such as Fuji and Pink Lady coloured-up well.

The pipfruit sector was particularly hard hit by a labour shortage. Edgarton said backpackers did not show up in their usual numbers — put off, she thinks, by the exchange rate.


She said the corporate growers had plenty of RSE (recognised seasonal employer) labour but smaller growers relied on backpackers so found it a challenge to get their crops in.
Low unemployment in Hawke's Bay also cut the supply of local people, she said.

She agreed working for the minimum wage was a challenge but said there was good money to be paid for those prepared to learn the necessary skills.

Growers had a good pollinating season during spring though it was reduced on the lower branches on many orchards. Packouts varied across varieties and some good averages were reported.

Markets were steady although the United States remained a difficult outlet. The story is different for Europe and Asia, where sales and returns have been good.

"Overall, the outlook is good and the industry in Hawke's Bay is still growing. There are bare-land blocks still being planted."

Summerfruit also had a challenging season, according to sector chairman Brian Fulford.
Heavy rain over the flowering season kept the bees at home, lowering volumes and quality.

There were some brown rot problems in peaches and nectarines because growers were unable to spray against it because of the 70-80mm of rain, Fulford said.

However, some newer varieties handled the conditions better, meaning any drop in quantity was slight, he said.


Unlike the apple industry, summerfruit had no labour problems because there were plenty of RSE workers still in the area after apple pruning.

Markets have been reasonably good with prices similar to last year.

The winter chill needed to ensure a good season started late but was well under way now, he said.

"No two seasons are the same."

For kiwifruit the news was better with good packouts and a lot of the crop being picked early.

Sector chairman Richard Pentreath said this year's crop was of good quality with high dry matter.

There were no problems with labour and markets were looking good, he said. "We are optimistic. We have a lot more gold fruit to sell and it's moving well."

Some of the fruit goes to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Asia but the biggest growth has been to China. "We are getting good returns and are expecting them to continue. It's happy days really, and long may they last."