There is increasing activity in New Zealand's kiwifruit orchards this month as the picking and packing of kiwifruit gets underway.
Over 2500 growers will be harvesting some 12,000 hectares of kiwifruit, which will be marketed to over 50 countries.
Small volumes have just begun to be harvested in Northland and Poverty Bay and will extend throughout the North Island and top of the South Island over the coming weeks.
Harvest is expected to begin in the next few days in the Bay of Plenty where around 80 per cent of New Zealand's kiwifruit are grown.
The harvest of the SunGold variety for this season is expected to be significantly more than the harvest last year, while the green Hayward variety is forecasted to be less.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. chairperson Doug Brown says although the total volumes are slightly down from last season, it's still shaping up to be a good harvest.
“New Zealand has some of the best growing conditions in the world for kiwifruit and we are looking forward to more good volumes. Many areas were affected by wet weather which has delayed the start of harvest, but most of us can now roll up our sleeves and get picking and packing. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all growers a happy and safe harvest.”
Around 10,000 permanent workers are employed in the kiwifruit industry with an additional 8000 seasonal workers who pick and pack kiwifruit. Of these seasonal workers, a small minority are Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers who play a crucial role, as labour shortages are a real problem for the kiwifruit industry around the peak of harvest time.
The kiwifruit industry is recovering from being hit by Psa in 2010 and has been growing strongly with Zespri's total sales returns for the 2015/16 season around $2 billion dollars. As New Zealand's largest fresh fruit horticultural export, the kiwifruit industry also profits the regions where it is grown, for example, bringing around $910 million to the Bay of Plenty annually.