8 Aug 2011

MAF confirms Nelson pipfruit growers facing tough times

5:34 am on 8 August 2011

The Ministry of Agriculture's latest farm monitoring analyses for kiwifruit, wine and pipfruit shows the high value of the New Zealand dollar against the main trading currencies is having a significant negative impact on those export-focused sectors.

And climatic and growing conditions have taken a heavy toll on orchard and vineyard incomes in some regions.

The report confirms apple growers' concerns about how tough a time they're having, particularly in the Nelson region.

Senior policy analyst Annette Carey says MAF's pipfruit orchard model for the 2009-2010 year, shows a typical Nelson grower had a deficit of $126,000.

She says that's in marked contrast to the average loss for an orchardist in Hawke's Bay, which was only $5000.

Ms Carey says Hawke's Bay has a variety mix which suits the Asian market, where as Nelson's variety mix tends to be more focused on the European market.

She says MAF's modelling for this year shows Nelson growers still making an average loss of $54,000, with growers in Hawke's Bay making a small profit of $15,700.

MAF's analysis for kiwifruit is more positive, despite the industry's on-going battle with the vine-disease PSA.

It says the typical kiwifruit orchard business achieved its highest profit level for a number of years in the 2010-11 financial year, at $54,840, helped by record yields.

It's projecting another, although smaller profit for the coming year, but also acknowledges the increased costs and uncertainty for growers who have to deal with PSA.

MAF says favourable climatic conditions and higher yields made the past year a profitable one for owner-operated vineyards in Marlborough, despite grape prices falling by an average 8%.

The lower price and poorer yields meant a loss for Hawke's Bay vineyards, but MAF is expecting them to return a marginal profit in the coming year.