Minimal damage to cherry crops

Central Otago cherry growers say fruit damage is minimal after recent rain.

Yesterday, patchy showers halted picking in some Cromwell and Alexandra orchards and last Friday heavy rain was felt across the district.

Orchardists reported damage to fruit but said it was minimal due to cold weather.

Tim Jones, who manages 45 South in Cromwell, said yesterday's rain was "over too quickly'' to cause major damage.

"We stopped picking for the day for the safety of the workers and brought in the helicopter to dry things off.''

Friday's rain caused "minimal damage'' because of cold weather, he said.

Harry Roberts, who co-owns H and J Roberts Orchard in Earnscleugh, said yesterday's rain did not seem to damage the crop but between 5%-15% of the fruit was damaged last Friday.

"I'm not too worried, although we'll have to see what happens with [today's] forecast rain.

"When you get rain, it always causes a bit of splitting.''

His orchard had a "good run'' this season and still had 10 to 14 days of picking left, he said.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and Roxburgh orchardist Gary Bennetts said rain did not spread to his patch yesterday and Friday's showers caused "minimal damage''.

"The workers got a day off over the weekend but a cold southerly meant that the damage won't be too bad.

"Overall, the weather this season has been pretty good.''

Rain is forecast today for many Central Otago areas.

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