Stonefruit late to shelves in lead-up to Christmas

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Stonefruit will be on our shelves later than usual this season after Cyclone Gabrielle decimated the crops in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne this year.

The beloved summer staple will appear eventually as the high and dry summer weather returns to the fruit bowl of the North Island.

Summerfruit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking stonefruit were only late, and had not disappeared completely.

The early crops traditionally come out of the areas devastated by Cyclone Gabrielle, which is the cause of the delay.

“Some growers lost trees and that was pretty devastating for them, but many growers’ trees had wet feet basically, so the fruit is just taking a bit longer this year,” Hellstrom said.

“They are very excited for a positive summer and the El Nino weather pattern will hopefully dry everything out.

“Hold on, they are nearly here”

Farro Fresh Produce manager Kuldeep Bhullar said Central Otago fruit would start arriving in stores after Christmas and was shaping up to be a stunning crop.

He was confident prices would come down as the season progressed.

At present you can expect to pay premium prices at the checkout for the fruit, with some types costing as much as $18/kg.

The small 1kg plastic punnets that are a staple in a Kiwi summer picnic are going for about $10, but are out of stock in many shops around the country at the major supermarket chains.

Early season cherries have already started to appear on supermarket shelves, ready to be enjoyed alongside your family’s Christmas feast.

“There are going to be lots over the summer,” Hellstrom said.

“They are going to be really tasty too, with the growing conditions being good.”

Lives, jobs, dreams and homes were left in tatters after Cyclone Gabrielle struck the country’s fruit bowl in February.

The past year has been plagued with fruit and vegetable shortages after the storm flooded numerous orchards and farms producing apples, watermelons, stonefruit, onions, squash and pumpkins.


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