Wet sea­son hits vege prices

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - JILL GAL­LOWAY AND GERARD HUTCHING

This sea­son has been the hard­est year for grow­ing and har­vest­ing as­para­gus in Ge­off Lewis’ 36 years in the in­dus­try.

The Horowhenua grower said the con­stant rain had put har­vest­ing and packing be­hind where it would usu­ally be.

‘‘The water ta­ble is full and it only takes a small amount of rain to cause water to sit on top of the ground. Some parts of the as­para­gus fields are to­tally un­der water.

‘‘The im­pact of this sat­u­ra­tion on the health of the plants is un­known at this stage. The great­est con­cern, is the amount of phy­topthera, a fun­gal dis­ease caused by soil sat­u­ra­tion. This dis­ease causes the plants to rot un­der the ground.’’

Lewis and his fam­ily own the Ten­der­tips as­para­gus farms and pack­house, si­t­u­ated be­tween Fox­ton and Levin in Horowhenua.

Ten­der­tips had farms for sup­ply around the re­gion and the spread of crops and soil types pro­vided some pro­tec­tion against iso­lated cli­matic events. But it had not stopped the im­pact of the wide­spread rain, which had fallen through­out the North Is­land.

Lewis said spring had come late for the as­para­gus crop and the del­i­cacy wasn’t as wide­spread in mar­kets as a re­sult.

He said the wet weather had hit all veg­eta­bles in Horowhenua. In some ar­eas veg­eta­bles were rot­ting in the ground. As a re­sult, most were more ex­pen­sive this sea­son, than last.

Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Chap­man said con­sumers needed to un­der­stand that lower than nor­mal sup­plies im­pacted on avail­abil­ity and cost. ‘‘When peo­ple get to the shops and see higher than ex­pected prices for veg­eta­bles, they don’t nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stand why that is.’’

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