Warm winter threatens New Zealand kiwifruit

From Fresh Fruit Portal | 3 August 2023

Overview of kiwifruit from New Zealand in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on August 2, 2023. 

It has been a hot winter in New Zealand, with some of the highest temperatures recorded in 110 years, jeopardizing the country’s largest horticultural export crop: kiwifruit.

The New Zealand Herald reports that kiwifruit growers in the Bay of Plenty are concerned about another challenging growing season.

“Bay of Plenty-based Fruition Horticulture consultant Sandy Scarrow said the winter was one of the warmest she could remember, which meant the vines were not getting the required winter chilling,” reports the New Zealand Herald.

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri reported negative results for the 2022-23 season with grower returns down due to fruit quality issues driven by the industry’s severe labor shortage, cost increases, and supply chain challenges.

kiwifruit volumes by his

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Scarrow from Fruition Horticulture adds that last year the region’s kiwifruit had a poor flowering because of the warm temperatures, and this year the lack of chilling has been even worse.

She says that potentially means orchards would once again find fewer flowers set on the canes and it had an ongoing effect throughout the season.

Bay of Plenty is the largest kiwifruit growing region in New Zealand, with around 80% of area planted.

At Zespri, the estimated export volume for the 2023 season is 136 million trays, which represents a 20.5% decrease compared with the 171 million trays recorded for the 2022 season, according to data provided by the company.

Growers are counting a cold front expected for the next two weeks, which Colin Bond, chief executive for New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated says, “should provide the winter chill hours in time to improve flower sets.”

“From a winter chill point of view, these horrible humid, wet days and nights that we’ve been having (at Hawke’s Bay) are actually adding to the winter chill,” says Bond.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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