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Devastating Damage to South Island crops from Rain
Cherry’s split now worthless
It was devastating to watch growers in tears after heavy rain and flooding caused so much damage to orchard crops in the South Island early in the New Year. Disruptions from Covid-19 has caused endless issues for growers and this must have just been another blow for those affected. I have heard numerous times how climate change could make droughts longer and storms more severe. Late last year Napier had a huge storm that brought torrential rain which destroyed many homes.
Due to the storm early in January, greenhouses or protected cropping structures may not have prevented damage caused by flood water that raced through orchards and market gardens. Cherry growers, protected from flooding, but not protected from the rain appeared to suffer huge crop losses due to fruit splitting. One possible solution to reduce or eliminate damage is to use a greenhouse type structure. An insurance policy against severe weather.
I also wondered about the opportunity of collecting and using some of that rain water (where appropriate) for when you did need it. Protecting your crop with low to high tech structures is a capital expense, which not all can afford. However, if you can it offers security from extreme weather events, it also gives the grower increased control over the crops. Protected cropping structures can be erected over existing crops and on uneven ground. Different structures will have different ratings and some will be able to handle strong winds and rain.
Last week I had a brief chat with someone in the banking industry, they said even with a comprehensive business case it may not be feasible to cover certain crops. It is true it will depend on a number of factors but with climate change, and the ever-changing environment we grow in, crop protection- from the very basic low-tech structures to the high-tech greenhouse structures, will become common and transform many industries that traditionally grow outdoors.
In the past two years more and more structures have been erected, especially in the berry industry. Cherries are of huge value (I do not foresee this changing any time soon), some cherry growers in NZ already benefit from protective structures. The growers, who invested in this large capital outlay, deserve recognition and respect for taking the leap of faith to protect their business and the jobs of their employees. I hope they make heaps of money, our economy needs our growers to be successful and bring export earnings back into NZ.
In summery – if the devastation, in the South Island, hasn’t convinced businesses to at least investigate the option of protected cropping structures then they are at the mercy of the weather Gods.
Click on the links below to read media reports. Damage from heavy rain also caused issues in the Hawkes Bay in late December.
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Article Written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower
Article Edited by Marie Vogrincic, Editor, Grower2Grower