Central Otago's unpredictable climate has not dampened the outlook of local cherry growers.

Early varieties of cherries are already being picked in Central Otago and orchardists are hopeful of another good season.

The region has experienced varied weather conditions in the past fortnight, ranging from flooding and hailstorms to a tornado at Fruitlands.

However, orchardists had suffered little or no damage.


Cromwell grower Mark Jackson said forecasts for coming days meant growers were not out of the woods yet.

The MetService has forecast heavy rain and hail to fall in the region today.

Last season, hot weather in November meant the Central Otago cherry season was three weeks ahead of schedule.

The timing of the present season was more typical, he said.

Teviot Valley grower Gary Bennetts said hail had struck his orchard recently, but the result could have been worse.

''Not too much damage here. It's insignificant [compared] to hail we've had previously.''

Roxburgh orchardist Jered Taylor began picking last week and only found minor cracking in his cherry crop.

''It's all looking quite positive.''