Cool winter boosts currants

Afsaneh and Tony Howey check one of their crops of currants at their Pleasant Point property. Photo: Supplied
Afsaneh and Tony Howey check one of their crops of currants at their Pleasant Point property. Photo: Supplied
A cold, wet winter is paying off for at least one South Canterbury berry grower.

ViBERi owner manager Tony Howey said the chill of last winter had provided a welcome boost to his crops of blackcurrants and redcurrants.

Moisture in the cooler months had also helped, he said.

''It was really good for the berries ... and for some cereal crops as well.''

Cool temperatures in October, with some mornings near-freezing, were almost too cold, but the crops survived well.

''You need over 15 degrees Celsius days to get good pollination.''

ViBERi grows blackcurrants and redcurrants in Pleasant Point and potatoes, onions, carrots, seed crops and hybrid Chinese cabbages at Levels.

The vegetables and seed crops also survived the winter.

''The carrots did well, the onions were OK, but the very wet autumn was detrimental to [some of] the onion production,'' he said.

The potato crop also did well, along with most crops.

When asked what suffered the most, Mr Howey said his staff and machinery.

He said the workers had to work some long days over a particularly cold winter.

''We managed to get all the carrots out of the ground, but it was really hard work.''

Mr Howey credits his team for their dedication.

''It was really good of the team, the way they got in behind it and got it done.''

Harvest is next on their agenda, starting with seed crops in mid-December, followed by blackcurrants on about New Year's Day, a process that will take about three weeks.

Family-owned and operated Waitaki Orchards also has a good supply of fruit. However, cold weather during the pollination process affected apricots and cherries, general manager Irene Watt said.

''We've got a pretty light crop in our apricots and cherries, but everything else [plums, peaches and nectarines] is looking pretty normal.''

She said plums would start to get harvested on about Christmas Eve with most of the harvest kicking into gear from about January 10.

Butler's Fruit Farm has also experienced pleasing growth, particularly among its crop of raspberries and gooseberries.

Co-owner Jackie Butler said the rain had helped boost growth among the gooseberries.

''They are a good size,'' she said.

The raspberries were also doing well, with stocks expected to be ready by mid-December, instead of their usual season of late-December.

''So, we are really lucky to get them for Christmas,'' Mrs Butler said.

However, strawberries had been ''a bit slow'' due to the cold weather, but there were plenty of them preparing to ripen, Mrs Butler said.

''The main thing is I hope they taste nice.''

-By Alexia Johnston

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