As residents in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty prepare to bear the brunt of Cyclone Cook, the region’s kiwifruit growers and packers are watching on with cautious optimism.
A state of emergency was declared for the entire Bay of Plenty earlier this week, with high winds and torrential rains from the ex-tropical cyclone expected to lash the region this afternoon (13 April). The storm is forecast to bring up to 250mm of rain to the Bay of Plenty, prompting some experts to liken it to the devastating Cyclone Giselle in 1968.
Despite the weather event, packhouse operators are gearing up for a busy weekend, with growers eager to get mature fruit off their vines.
‘A large number of our growers have told us they’re ready to go,” one Bay of Plenty-based post-harvest operator told Asiafruit yesterday. “We’re expecting to have a lot of fruit running over our lanes come Friday night or Saturday morning,”
The weather event comes just a week after the Bay of Plenty and other key kiwifruit growing regions across the country’s North Island were hit by torrential rain stemming from ex-tropical cyclone Debbie, which wreaked havoc across northern Australia.
Since the rainfall last week, grower body New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) has been identifying severely affected orchards near the township of Edgecumbe.
“We’ve been providing support where necessary, particularly with pumping water off orchards,” explained Nikki Johnson, chief executive of NZKGI. “While some orchards have experienced some form of flooding, at this time we know of only a small handful of orchards which have been severely affected.”
Johnson said NZKGI would now be looking to identify any additional orchards that have been severely impacted by ex-Cyclone Cook. “Kiwifruit growers have previous experience with issues such as flooding from Cyclone Bola and 2005, which have given us the knowledge to respond to adverse events,” she added.