Season update: Fortunes vary for growers at each end of the country

Alistair King
4 April 2023
4 min read

5 April 2023

With harvesting in full swing in New Zealand, let’s look at how viticulture and horticulture industries across the country are faring, exploring the drastic highs and lows experienced by growers so far.

The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle

For growers at each of the country, the contrast could not be greater. While the South has experienced a bumper season and ideal weather conditions, the North has fallen on tough times with the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. It’s a stark reminder that while New Zealand has a small population, it is a big and diverse country – but one that has resilient primary industries run by people who care for their fellow producers.

As the industry is small, we all feel the pain of any producer who suffers bad weather and bad luck. With unfavourable conditions impacting the North, the sector is committed to doing what it can to support growers impacted by flooding and severe weather by spreading their own good fortune around.

We’ve had some clients suffer severe damage, but already we’re seeing the indominable Kiwi spirit kicking in with many people offering support and chipping in where they can. For example, the wine industry has rallied to help people through things like grape supply to get a vintage out, which helps with continuity of supply; an important aspect for the market. Plus, several local wineries have also hosted charitable events and national dinners to generate fundraising to ease the impact of the cyclone.

We all want to see to see Gisborne and Hawkes Bay back on their feet so if growers aren't harvesting, they’ll be cleaning up and replanting.

Sunshine in the South

In contrast, Southern areas of the country have enjoyed bumper seasons with favourable weather and circumstances combining to give South Island viticulture and horticulture a solid boost. Specifically, growers in the Central Otago region have enjoyed ideal conditions for grapes and other fruit - hot and dry, with just enough water. In addition, river flows have been pretty good, and the recent rain has replenished everything after a dry spell.

The same conditions have contributed to bumper cherry harvests. However, the timing of the Chinese New Year coming early meant a rethink, with many growers pivoting to produce sales in other Asian markets.

Down South, fruit has also generally performed very well with plenty of good stone fruit including apricot, peaches and nectarines, while apples are in full swing now. That isn’t to say the season hasn’t been without challenges, as apple growers are seeing tougher market conditions with significant increases in labour and input costs.

On the wine front, picking for Chardonnay and Pinot grapes kicked off in the south earlier in the month, with the main harvest underway, which marks the second excellent season of growing conditions in a row and so, we’re looking forward to some stellar 2023 vintage wines from the region.

Key takeaway

When it comes to harvesting, there’s little choice but to take the good with the bad and the weather will always be one the biggest deciding factors in how successful a season is. If the industry continues to unite and rally, we know there will be blue skies ahead.

At Findex, we’re committed to helping you access the tools you need to create the best path forward. Whatever your circumstances, we provide locally tailored business and strategic solutions for New Zealand agribusinesses of all sizes. From environmental conditions to risk management plans, volatile macro implications to succession structures, we understand the complex factors that may affect your agribusiness. Get in touch today to find out how we can help support your growth.

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Author: Alistair King | Partner

Based in Wanaka, Central Otago, Alistair leads Findex’s viticulture team nationally, incorporating offices in Queenstown, Christchurch, Nelson, Blenheim, Hawkes Bay and Auckland. Alistair is held in high regard commercially across New Zealand as a top wine industry specialist. He has worked on a number of high-level assignments of industry significance and is actively involved in a number projects aimed at further improving the financial performance of the sector.