Wet season hits vege prices
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.’’