Kiwifruit harvest under threat after Bay of Plenty flood events

Sun, Feb 5

Some kiwifruit orchards are in for another turbulent year, as the wet weather has left some underwater.

Kiwifruit vines in the Bay of Plenty took a direct hit this week and the total cost won't be revealed until the floods drain away.

Kiwifruit out of their natural habitat have been washed clean in the Papamoa surf, while their vines have been sitting in stagnant flood waters.

"The primary concern is around our vines and our vine health not sure if you can see but there’s a number of vines that are tipping over due to wet feet simply waterlogged and the eventually turnover and die,” Kiwifruit grower Cameron Hill told 1News.

Never before has Hill seen it quite like this - the viability of this land, now under threat.

“We’ve kind of got no choice - we’ll be making some pretty hard decisions in the next six to 12 months - our first focus is to get our current crop off as quickly and as best shape as possible and then we’ll make some decisions. And it might mean that would cut sections out and we just simply can’t grow kiwifruit so if there’s anything that grows in the water let us know."

The roots of some vines have been in the water for seven days now.

“It’s not a quick fix it’s a two to three-year recovery in a situation like this,” says another grower, Tammy Hill.

The industry is still getting a handle on exactly how many orchards are affected.

“It’s similar to what our peers are feeling in Auckland as well - "you’re talking about homes and livelihoods and that’s tough. These are people that have spent years working on the land making a tough decision to get into horticulture and [when] you ride the ups and the downs you need to be resilient, but it’s fatiguing so we need to make sure there is provision of support networks,” says NZKGI Chief Executive, Colin Bond.

Packhouses in the Bay of Plenty are also monitoring the situation.

"For a small number of growers it's been a devastating flood, they've had their orchards wiped out or significantly damaged,” says Seeka Chief Executive, Michael Franks.


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