Adverse Weather Dampens New Zealand Harvest

Producers began 2022 with optimism for another excellent harvest, but rain and disease resulted in some producers yielding no oil at all.

(Photo: Kapiti Olives)
Sep. 21, 2022
By Lisa Anderson
(Photo: Kapiti Olives)

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Earlier this year, olive grow­ers in New Zealand were opti­mistic ahead of the har­vest. However, some have had their hopes dashed, with more than a quar­ter of small-scale grow­ers hav­ing no har­vest at all.

According to fig­ures released by Olives New Zealand, 180,000 liters of extra vir­gin olive oil were pro­duced this year, com­pared to 200,000 liters in the 2019/20 crop year and 270,000 liters in 2020/21.

Some 26 per­cent of these groves had no har­vest. It is appar­ent that well-man­aged groves are more resilient to weather issues.- Gayle Sheridan, Olives New Zealand

Overall, our har­vest was 17 per­cent down from 2021,” Gayle Sheridan, Olives New Zealand’s exec­u­tive offi­cer, told Olive Oil Times. Our com­mer­cial grow­ers were pleased with their 2022 har­vest. However, our bou­tique grow­ers had var­i­ous ongo­ing chal­lenges with dis­ease man­age­ment and weather issues.”

Some 26 per­cent of these groves had no har­vest,” she added. It is appar­ent that well-man­aged groves are more resilient to weather issues and proac­tively man­age dis­ease, which pretty much elim­i­nates bien­nial bear­ing.”

See Also:2022 Harvest Updates

Earlier this year, Sheridan said that local grow­ers were inves­ti­gat­ing farm­ing meth­ods – besides early har­vest­ing, which improves the polyphe­nol count – to enhance the healthy prop­er­ties of their oils.

This is ongo­ing and will be the sub­ject of future research,” Sheridan said after the recent har­vest. At this point, the only effec­tive mea­sure has been early har­vest­ing.”

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Sheridan added that the qual­ity of the olives and oils has been excel­lent this year.

Judging for the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards is under­way, and there is look­ing to be a good spread of Gold and Silver, espe­cially,” she said. But per­haps not as many Gold oils as in 2021.”

Andrew Liley, co-owner of Juno Olives in the Wairarapa region, east of Wellington, described his har­vest as poor.

It was expected to be down on last year’s har­vest, but we had a poor fruit set and ended up not har­vest­ing our Frantoio or Moraiolo at all,” he told Olive Oil Times.

Heavy rains con­tributed to Juno Olives’ woes. It was wet all across our har­vest, mak­ing access prob­lem­atic,” he said. It also influ­enced when we could har­vest this year, lead­ing to us har­vest­ing our Leccino three weeks ear­lier than we have har­vested it before.”

Another pro­ducer from the Wairarapa region, Ross Vintiner, co-owner of Dali Estate, told Olive Oil Times that 2022 was their worst har­vest in 10 years.

See Also:New Zealand Producers Enjoy Strong Showing at World Competition

Dali Estate has seen increas­ing pro­duc­tion over the past five years,” he said. Our 2021 har­vest was a record and in the top per­centile for pro­duc­tion and yield across New Zealand, with the top polyphe­nols for the coun­try. Dali won top national and inter­na­tional hon­ors with these oils.”

Our har­vest was a bit­ter-sweet and short event, with fine weather, low fruit vol­ume and oil yields,” Vintiner said. Even our nor­mally high polyphe­nols were mainly at aver­age lev­els.”

With the promise of spring inflo­res­cence, south­ern Wairarapa suf­fered two weeks of con­stant rain, cool con­di­tions and lit­tle wind to dry flow­ers,” he added. Frantoio and Picual suf­fered most at the fruit set. Leccino, Koroneiki and Kalamata fared only slightly bet­ter.”

Despite this set­back this year,” Vintiner con­tin­ued, we are con­fi­dent that our bio­dy­namic and organic grow­ing regime will increas­ingly make our soil, biome and trees more resilient, pro­duc­tive and endur­ing.”

Contrary to Liley and Vintiner, another pro­ducer from the Wairarapa region, Margaret Hanson, the co-owner of Blue Earth Olive Oil, said she was delighted with the har­vest. Although the oil yield was down, the vol­ume of fruit was up, and the qual­ity was great,” she said.

This year’s har­vest was our biggest ever, hav­ing grown olives for over 20 years,” Hanson added. More aggres­sive man­age­ment of the grove is pay­ing div­i­dends.”

Our chal­lenge this year was jug­gling film­ing, har­vesters, weather and Covid,” she con­tin­ued. We had the final shoot for a national tele­vi­sion pro­gram, so it all needed to be teed up tightly. The weather coop­er­ated for some days, but not all.”

We com­pli­cated it by get­ting Covid part­way through,” she added, so the rest of the har­vest was directed from a dis­tance. But it all worked out. We are happy.”

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(Photo: Kapiti Olives)

Further west, on the country’s Kāpiti Coast, Kapiti Olives also yielded pos­i­tive results.

Kapiti Olives had a good har­vest,” owner Diana Crosse told Olive Oil Times. We were 400 liters up on last sea­son. This is great for our sales going into the new sea­son.”

Crosse, who described the amount of rain they received as unprece­dented, said this delayed their har­vest by almost a month, which required them to be extra vig­i­lant with their bird scar­ers. We had one day at the end of May, and did not get back until June 25,” she said.

This had a flow-on effect to when we could then bot­tle our new oil,” she said. We sold the last of the pre­vi­ous sea­son’s olive oil the day we started bot­tling our new oil.”

We had a tast­ing ses­sion with the Kapiti Branch of Olives New Zealand, and think we have once again pro­duced some great extra vir­gin olive oil,” Crosse con­cluded.


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