1 Dec 2017

'Fruit Bowl of the South' smashes Spring heat records

From Checkpoint, 5:29 pm on 1 December 2017

Cromwell - the Fruit Bowl of the South - has been basking in hot weather.

Last month was the warmest November on record, with the town notching up a mean air temperature of 24.9°C , more than 4° higher than average.

Spring had four days above 30°.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research meteorologist Ben Noll said the region was heating up and getting drier.

"Cromwell has been the epicentre of these very warm conditions. In fact it reached 33.3°, which was the warmest spring temperature on record."

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman Tim Jones said all indications were a record season on the cards.

Early harvests included apricots, with some fruit picked 10-14 days ahead of schedule.

Harvesting apricots in November is unusual.

Webb's Fruit owner Simon Webb said a new early-ripening apricot variety has been picked, the first time fruit has come off the trees in November in the orchard's 100-year history.

"To have them coming off in November is extreme.

"The heat makes the summerfruit ... Consumers are going to get a good sized piece of fruit that's going to be delicious."

But, Mr Noll said the soil moisture in the region was low and, in some places, plants were reaching wilting point. Stock could suffer too.

"Certainly from an agricultural perspective this may be difficult ... we've seemingly turned it up a notch. Things are just warmer this go around."

Cromwell fire chief Steve Shaw said people needed to be sensible about campfires.

A prohibited fire season started today.