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Horticulture markets and benign winter, maintain grower confidence at high levels

October 2018

Within their various sectors, growers approach spring in a positive frame of mind.

In Hawke’s Bay and Nelson, the pipfruit sector had an extended harvest, which meant packing was prolonged, with packhouses operating longer than they generally plan for. In vineyards, pruning was the focus, preparing vines for the coming season and the 2019 vintage.

Reflecting high levels of optimism in horticulture, development activities are proceeding, particularly in viticulture, kiwifruit, avocados and cherries, with the latter featuring heavily in Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay.

In Marlborough most of the prime land for viticulture is already taken up, meaning the establishment of new vineyards is reduced compared to recent years. While demand for increased production remains heavy, new viticulture development is slowing down as wineries consolidate after several years of extensive developments, requiring large capital investment .

For some horticulture crop sectors, development is putting pressure on the availability of stock for planting, particularly avocados and cherries, where demand is reflected in a considerable waiting list for trees from nurseries around the country.

While these developments are positive, expansion comes with challenges, which could impact on the supply and demand equation in some sectors. Where developers have not undertaken all the necessary preparation, risks could eventuate in securing export markets, and uncertainty could arise around the availability of labour and the management of logistics.

Continued good news from export markets eager to take New Zealand horticulture produce is driving the optimism that is motivating development. Apples and kiwifruit are the mainstays. Fruit selling well into expanding Asian markets is a good news story for apple growers.

While the winter weather could indicate a fertile spring ahead, it is too early to predict that with any confidence.

This report was prepared in consultation with PGG Wrightson’s Fruitfed Supplies, a leading horticultural service and supply business servicing New Zealand’s major horticultural regions.