Hort should plan for a future of extreme weather
The current heatwave gripping the country has seen temperatures soar to record highs in many districts.
With the high temperatures set to continue, many growers in some areas are now under pressure to ensure they don’t lose their crops, which is difficult for those who may have little or no irrigation.
Horowhenua grower Geoff Lewis of Tendertips Asparagus says the weather over the past few months has been some of the worst and hottest he’s experienced.
“It’s been very, very hot here. We’ve been going through a period of 25 to 30 degree days, which is most unusual for the district which normally has a cool climate that never goes much above 22 degrees, that historically has made it so good for growing vegetables.
“There are some regions that have done incredibly well, they are regions of high elevation and they tend to attract the thunderstorm weather. So parts of the central North Island like Marton or Hunterville had a huge amount of rain and it’s come in massive dollops. The point I am trying to make is there are regions that have had a season of extremes.
“We have gone through a period of eighteen months or so where the weather was initially particularly wet to a GEOFF LEWIS, TENDERTIPS ASPARAGUS
“We've been going through a period of 25 to 30 degree days, which is most unusual for the district which normally has a cool climate that never goes much above 22 degrees”
period which appears to be influenced by the very high temperatures. So we are getting a climatic period in New Zealand of extremes, where some regions are getting massive amounts of rain and some are getting very little.
“We’ve got a continuation of extreme conditions throughout New Zealand where some crops are amazingly successful, and some are really struggling, and that depends on what their water needs are and their geographical location.
“The biggest question that we have to consider as a horticultural industry is this. Is the climate of the last two years an indication of what is to come?
“What was said originally was global warming would produce extremes. Maybe this is a piece of work that the horticultural industry needs to do. To start to gather information on the effect of climate change on the horticultural industries in New Zealand and project where the most appropriate areas are for certain crops. What impact a change of climate would have on where and what we grow in the future.”
Geoff says if the temperatures they are experiencing at present continue then Horowhenua would go from being an area ideal for growing vegetables, to being more suitable for growing fruit.