New Zealand cherry grower Cherri Global is working towards having 100 per cent of its mature cherry production under rain covers for the coming 2021-22 season.
On 1 January 2021, Otago –the country’s major cherry growing region – was hit by record-breaking rainfall which wiped out around 40-50 per cent of the remaining cherry crop.
Following the significant damage, Cherri Global’s chief executive Phil Alison said the company vowed to take matters into its own hands.
“We saw rain covers as being imperative for the long-term success of our business. We can’t control the weather but rain covers basically guarantee quality and supply for our customers which gives us a real point of difference,” said Alison.
The rain covers are ventilated for air flow to ensure that the cherries don’t overheat and provide a range of benefits.
“There are benefits beyond just protecting cherries from rain. Rain covers also enable us to harvest at peak ripeness and not be dictated by the weather,” said Alison.
“There is also some evidence to suggest that cherries grow bigger under the covers so we are excited to experience these benefits too.”
Cherri Global has a rapid growth plan which will see their production increase from 450 tonnes to over 2,000 tonnes in the next three seasons.
Although most of the increased production is in the Otago region, three new orchards have been planted in Hawke’s Bay in order to increase the supply of early New Zealand cherries for export.
“By increasing our supply window as well as volume, means we can handle the full season requirements of our customers,” said Alison.
“The coming season is shaping up to be a great one, we have had excellent winter chilling hours and pollination is under way. We expect good quality, size and crop loading this season.”