$50M ex­port tar­get for cher­ries

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DASHA KUPRIENKO

Cen­tral Otago cherry grow­ers hope for no rain be­fore Chi­nese New Year, as they plan to ex­port about $50 mil­lion worth of cher­ries.

Sum­mer­fruit New Zealand chair­man Tim Jones said the de­mand for ex­ported cher­ries grew about $7 mil­lion from last year’s $43m.

From last year’s ex­ported 3400 tonnes, almost 1000 tonnes went to China, in time for their New Year on Fe­bru­ary 2.

‘‘The China mar­ket is look­ing par­tic­u­larly strong so it will prob­a­bly take over a thou­sand tonnes,’’ Jones said.

Over 80 Cen­tral Otago cherry grow­ers will have to have the fruit picked and packed by Jan­uary 23 for them to make it be­fore the Lu­nar New Year on Jan­uary 28.

He­li­copters were dry­ing out cherry trees last week af­ter 13 mil­lime­tres of ‘‘fast mov­ing’’ rain­fall.

Cen­tral Cher­ries gen­eral man­ager Michael Stu­art said some ar­eas have been more af­fected by rain than oth­ers.

‘‘The south­ern end of the val­ley is prob­a­bly get­ting more rain. Where we are at the present point of time, I think we’ve put enough things in place to try and help that sit­u­a­tion, but oth­ers are in dif­fi­culty,’’ he said.

Stu­art could not re­veal the amount of cher­ries he would ex­port to China, but said he had seen the in­crease this year.

Cromwell’s Cheeki Cher­ries owner Martin Milne was dis­ap­pointed with the weather, as he hoped to ex­port 30 tonnes of fruit to China this year.

‘‘We had he­li­copters help­ing us this morn­ing at 5.30am dry­ing out the cher­ries for about one hour.

‘‘At the end of the day it is what it is,’’ he said.

Sum­mer­fruit New Zealand’s Jones said af­ter the rain, cher­ries ab­sorb the water and split, mak­ing them un­suit­able for the mar­ket.

‘‘Most grow­ers would still be fairly happy they still have a good vol­ume of fruit to be able to pick over the next few weeks to sup­ply not just China but all mar­kets,’’ he said.

It was ex­pen­sive to run 15 he­li­copters in Cen­tral Otago but the re­sult jus­ti­fied the ex­penses, he said.

Over­all, the sea­son has been ‘‘pretty good’’ de­spite a cold sum­mer.’’

‘‘Fruit quan­tity and qual­ity has been re­ally good and we ex­pect it to con­tinue for an­other three weeks or so.’’

JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Sum­mer­fruit New Zealand chair­man Tim Jones.

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