New Zealand’s olive producers were forced to delay harvesting this season as lack of sun and torrential rain resulted in the fruit ripening late. As the harvesting season should have been underway, New Zealand was battered by storms and cyclones in the worst weather to hit the country for 50 years. Olive farmers braced themselves for a disappointing harvest and a drop in yields of up to 90 percent.
I would say the crop is down in volume by at least a third possibly half in some groves.
On Waiheke Island, a grape and olive growing region not far from Auckland, harvesting didn’t get underway until late April. Anne Stanimiroff co-owner of the Rangihoua Olive Estate told Olive Oil Times, “We are late to begin by two weeks and I would say the crop is down in volume by at least a third possibly half in some groves. The oils yields are looking to average about 15 percent.”
New Zealand producers submitted just four entries in this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition, and one company, Olives New Zealand, captured two Gold Awards with its Robinsons Bay and Old French Road brands.
Stanimiroff added, “On Waiheke Island where we are based we have had record rainfall for March which was 322 mm, the most ever since records begun in 1914. In April we had a further 271.5 mm of rain the most since 1968. Not good for some our grape growers and olives.”
Stanimiroff who has managed the Rangihoua estate since 1996 and received a string of accolades for her olive oils told Olive Oil Times, “At this stage, I have not tasted too much of our fresh EVOO to have an opinion on quality.”
Wil and Geritt Kruithoed, owners of the Moutohora Olive Estate in Thornton braced themselves for a 90-percent drop in yield, blaming the storms which lashed The Bay of Plenty in March.
Wil Kruithoed told NZ Farmer earlier this month, “Harvesting should already have begun but poor sunshine has meant picking won’t start for another 2 weeks.” Kruithoed, who is relying on his Koroneiki olives to save the day, told NZ Farmer, “I’ve heard everyone this year is down on production; up north, the Wairarapa and probably Canterbury too.”
Kruithoed vowed not to increase his olive oil prices in order to retain business. He expressed optimism that the excessive rain will lead to a bumper harvest next year. The Dutch couple have grown olives on the estate for almost 20 years and have produced award-winning olive oil.
Kerry Hart, co-owner of Azzuro Groves located on the Te Whau peninsular of Waiheke, described a mixed picture when he began harvesting in late April. Hart told NZ Farmer that some of his groves were “loaded with fruit” while others bore very little. Hart added, “It’s been a tough year but I will be keeping prices the same.”