Spring has definitely sprung and PickMee!'s blossoming summer fruit trees are a clear indication of that.
Managing director John Altham said the blossom, on the 50ha of summer fruit trees, was right on time, and there were "plenty of flowers for the bees to do their work."
Altham has been growing summer fruit in Hawke's Bay and Hamilton for more than 50 years and is a major New Zealand producer under the PickMee! brand into Countdown supermarkets.
Altham says New Zealand's demand for eating fresh, healthy fruit continues to grow.
During winter his family planted thousands more summer fruit trees with new earlier and later varieties to extend the season.
"The season under our PickMee! brand, we'll grow and pack out over a million kilos of nectarines, peaches and plums for Countdown. It's an exciting time for growth in our business and across the industry."
Altham said in recent years, because of the success of New Zealand's pipfruit industry, many growers had replaced their smaller summer fruit blocks with more popular higher-value export apple varieties.
"But for us, summer fruit is an important part of our overall business mix. Having summer fruit along with pipfruit has enabled us to create more better-paying, permanent jobs for New Zealanders.
"We've also opened a new-state-of-the-art $25 million pack and cool operation, which has future-proofed the business ready for increasing production as new plantings come on stream."
In three months, the company's first nectarines and peaches will be harvested for sale, followed by plums which go through to April, combining with the apple harvest, which starts at the end of January.