The apple-picking season has come to an end in Hawke's Bay and a leading group within the industry says growers are on track to lose an estimated $105 million in export earnings - following another tough season.
Hawke's Bay grows the most apples by far of any region across the country and the picking season traditionally runs from February to April.
Since the arrival of Covid, finding enough pickers and packhouse workers has proved a tough challenge for orchards, who have not been able to rely on backpackers and travellers to boost their workforce.
The Government-backed RSE worker scheme has helped but growers have still struggled to get all their apples picked.
New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI), which represents pipfruit growers across the country, has released figures on how the industry has performed this season.
In January, the apple and pear crop was predicted to reach the equivalent of 23.2 million export boxes.
"That forecast has now been adjusted to be approximately 20.3 million boxes, representing an estimated reduction in export earnings of $105 million," NZAPI said.
NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle said a perfect storm of adverse weather events as well as major labour shortages had affected the result.
Many growers in Hawke's Bay are still busy packing apples for export, meaning the final amount of export earnings won't be known for a while yet.
NZ Fruitgrowers Federation director Leon Stallard, from Hawke's Bay, said it hadn't been "the easiest of harvests" for a combination of reasons.
"The weather didn't help us early season and the rain at the end of March during the harvest [also impacted us].
"So it won't go down as a vintage year."
He said finding enough workers had also been difficult.
He said on his own orchard, Claremont Trust, they were fortunate to get all their apples picked, but yields were down.
"There were less [apples] on the trees. And equally just trying to get them off with the labour that we had was difficult."
He said growers were hopeful next year would prove to be somewhat of a return to normality.
"That is the only way you can stay in business is you have to be an optimist."