New Zealand Growers' Hopes Not Washed Away by Heavy Rains

New Zealand’s olive farmers started harvesting late last month, and although many producers look forward to a bountiful yield, they have been affected by the significant rainfall in recent months.

Emma Glover, Olives New Zealand's executive officer, said the first Northland orchards started harvesting in late March. She said most of the country's harvest generally goes through May and June, but this year it's two weeks later.

“Well-maintained groves, with good pruning and spraying management, are more resilient and therefore have withstood the weather better and should have a moderate season,” Glover added.

“Other areas have been impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, which has caused flooding in groves, wind damage to trees and infrastructure damage to areas,” Glover said.

However, Diana Crosse, co-owner of Kapiti Olives on the Kāpiti Coast north of Wellington, said the floods and winds that Gabrielle brought to large parts of the country missed them.

Crosse predicted the harvest would decrease by up to 25 percent from last year. “The whole grove had a very heavy prune – about 30 percent – to manage the size of the trees for both height and light,” she explained.

Along with Kapiti Olives, the producers at Juno Olives from the Wairarapa region on the North Island are getting ready to harvest around the same time.

"The harvest is looking more promising than last year for all varieties, with better weather around the time of flowering and fruit set than last year, as well as being our ‘on-year’ [in the olive trees’ natural alternate bearing cycle]."