New Zealand apple exporter Golden Bay Fruit is planning to invest heavily in anti-hail netting this year following a successful trial of the technology across around 10 per cent of its orchards in 2016, Eurofruit has learned.
Severe hailstorms have been an all-too regular occurrence in key apple-producing areas of New Zealand over the past few years, prompting growers to consider installing anti-hail systems as a precaution.
Golden Bay, which itself has undergone considerable growth in the past decade to become one of the country’s leading topfruit exporters, sells most of its fruit in the UK and the rest of the EU, while also seeing its sales to emerging markets in Asia rise significantly over the last few years.
Ensuring that its production can withstand unfavourable conditions in the region around its base in Motueka, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, has become much more of a priority, explains commercial manager Patrick Meikle.
“We trialled the netting last year, covering 50 of our 500ha this year, and are planning on a big increase for next year too,” he reveals. “We realise how important it is for our customers to have a reliable supplier that can guarantee volumes of good quality fruit, no matter what mother nature throws at us.”
With just a few months to go before new-season harvesting and export shipments get underway, Meikle says there is likely to be more fruit available this year.
“It’s early days, but the 2017 crop looks like it’s shaping up nicely. We’re predicting a crop of over 1.5m cartons of apples , including an increasing volume of exciting new varieties.”