20 Apr 2012

Kiwifruit harvest running behind schedule

8:46 am on 20 April 2012

Te Puke-based Seeka, which is New Zealand's largest kiwifruit grower and packhouse operator, says its harvesting season is running about two to three weeks behind normal.

Chief executive Michael Frank says that's in line with most growers.

He says the crop is of good size and quality, with very few rejects, but the harvest of gold kiwifruit is down 50% because of the impact of the bacterial disease Psa.

Mr Frank says harvesters are now working to harvest infected orchards to prevent any further deterioration and get the crop into the managed and controlled environment of its coolstores.

Before a Psa-infected orchard is picked, he says, clean-up crews are sent in to remove any fruit that shows signs of infection so that the harvesters can then come in to strip pick the whole orchard.

Mr Franks says that despite the late start to picking, Seeka expects to finish by the first week of June, which is well before frosts arrive.