New Zealand Apples and Pears reduces crop estimate by more than 20 per cent after impact of major weather event on North Island’s East Coast

The forecast for the New Zealand apple and pear crop has been revised downward following the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle, which hit parts of the East Coast of the North Island in mid-February. 

While re-estimates are yet to be completed for the Tairāwhiti Gisborne region, the overall New Zealand crop is now estimated to come in at 16.1m cartons (18kg tray carton equivalents), down 21 per cent on the original January crop estimate of 20.4m cartons, according to the latest forecast from New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI) issued on 15 March.

“As a result of the storm, the Hawke’s Bay pipfruit crop is down 33 per cent,” said NZAPI. “This represents a reduction of 4.3m cartons in the Hawke’s Bay region. Crop reductions are across the range of the varieties grown in Hawke’s Bay.”

The Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s largest pipfruit growing region, typically accounting for close to two-thirds of national production. Pre-cyclone estimates put the Hawke’s Bay crop at 12.9m cartons, representing 63 per cent of the overall crop.

Despite severe damage and devastating losses for many growers, NZAPI said the impact varied significantly across the region.

“On the East Coast, there is a clear distinction between blocks that have been significantly and severely impacted by the storm, and blocks that are untouched,” it said.

“For the unaffected blocks, the remaining crop harvest is well underway, and conditions for the remaining harvest period look good.”

Key South Island growing regions, Central Otago and Nelson/Tasman, continue to experience good growing and harvest conditions, according to NZAPI, and are on course to meet forecast crop expectations. 

“While the overall New Zealand crop is down, exporters will provide a premium product to the market by ensuring only the best quality apples and pears are placed in the carton as they do every year,” NZAPI added.