5 Mar 2015

Drought may bite olive harvest

7:30 am on 5 March 2015

A Wairarapa olive grower says the extremely dry conditions are taking a toll on trees and will bite into this year's harvest.

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Photo: 123rf

Last year a record olive harvest was recorded in many parts of the country, helped by hot, dry summer conditions.

Olive New Zealand's president, Andrew Taylor, said it was too early to say what this year's harvest would be like from region to region, although it was likely that some growers will get lighter crops than the record amount last year.

But grower Ray Lilley, who owns White Rocks Olives at Martinborough, said the weather conditions this season would reduce the harvest, especially on younger trees.

"This year we're well down on what we had last year, so that means perhaps we had over five tonnes of fruit last year.

"Present indications are we'll have possibly two tonne of fruit this year.

"At pollination there were serious gales which affected that, then the drought and the drought's seen some of the fruit literally dry up and drop off the trees as they close down, in part to try and keep themselves alive and while we've been irrigating the trees, that still hasn't prevented some of the fruit drying up and dropping off."