Covid-19, dry weather and labour shortages are expected to create hurdles for the start of the kiwifruit harvest in Bay of Plenty.
There was even talk about New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated working with forestry organisations to ascertain if they could provide opportunities to forestry employees while there was a lull in wood exports.
NZKGI today released its forecast for another bumper season with about 155 million trays expected across the country.
This year's crop was forecast to be well up from the 147 million trays exported in 2019.
It was predominantly the Gold variety which was first picked, followed by Green kiwifruit in late March. The last fruit was picked in June.
Zespri Red Kiwifruit will also be picked as a commercial variety. This would be destined for markets in Japan and Singapore as well as supermarket shelves in New Zealand.
Chief executive of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) Nikki Johnson said there would be some potential hurdles this season relating to dry weather, Covid-19 and seasonal labour availability.
"As the kiwifruit is packed, we will start to have a clearer picture of the impact of this year's hot and dry weather which may be influential," Johnson said.
This season also had an emphasis on being well prepared for potential disruption from Covid-19.
The industry was working together to plan and mitigate disruption and will be following public health recommendations, she said.
It was currently forecast that around 20,000 workers would be required throughout the harvest period.
NZKGI had taken proactive steps to mitigate the likely labour risk and would be communicating on the steps which will be taken over the coming weeks.
Kiwifruit is New Zealand's largest horticultural export, with the Bay of Plenty contributing $1.45 billion to the industry.