Bumper season for apple and pear crops - report

The apple and pear industry is celebrating a successful season, with good growing conditions producing high quality fruit.

New Zealand Apples & Pears (NZAP) has released its annual crop estimate for 2019, expecting a modest increase in the gross crop for 2019.

The forecast gross crop of 604,500 metric tonnes is 2.5 percent up on 2018 which industry leaders said was a good year.

"Notwithstanding some hail in Central Otago, growing conditions across the rest of New Zealand this season have been very good," said NZAPears Chief Executive, Alan Pollard.

"Adequate rainfall means that all regions have good quantities of irrigation water, and sunlight and warmth are at some of the best levels that we have seen," he said. 

He said the result of the good growing season can be seen in fruit quality. 

"What is most notable about this year's crop is the exceptional quality of the fruit. Consumers can expect to receive the high-quality apples and pears that New Zealand is renowned for."

Mr Pollard said the success of the apple and pear industry is the continued diversification of varieties available world-wide. 

"The broad portfolio of varieties that we offer has changed dramatically since the mid-2000's, when Royal Gala and Braeburn accounted for almost 80 percent of New Zealand exports."

"Today, Royal Gala remains our largest export variety accounting for around 30 percent of total exports."

Meanwhile varieties such as Braeburn continue to decline, with that particular variety's planted area down 7 percent over 2018 and expected export volumes down 8 percent for 2019.

The industry expects average fruit size to be smaller than 2018, with the season running around 5 to 7 days later than 2018 in Hawkes Bay and about the same timing 2018 in Nelson.

The area planted in apples and pears continues to increase at about 3 percent to 4 percent per annum and is now at 10,189  hectares.