'Perfect growing conditions' lead to bumper strawberry crop

Kiwis are being urged to make the most of the strawberry season, with this year's crop one of the best in recent memory.

Jerry Prendergast, president of United Fresh, says the "weather gods" have smiled on growers this year.

"It's definitely one of the best seasons we've seen in a long time," Prendergast told The AM Show on Monday.

"If you think about the way the weather's been over the last few weeks, we've had perfect growing conditions, very mild weather... [and] lots of sunlight, which is what strawberries want."

Prendergast says the result is the juiciest and tastiest strawberries he's tasted in recent years.

And with the fruit only in season until around March, he's encouraging Kiwis to make the most of it while they can.

"It's only available for a window of five months in New Zealand - yes, there's some extension of those seasons now, there's undercover cropping which is extending the season - but the main crop, which are grown outdoor, rely on the weather gods to look after us, and the weather gods have looked after us so far."

Strawberry Growers NZ executive manager Mick Ahern said because of COVID-19, growers were also feeling the pinch, which was another reason to buy the fruit.

"Export is slightly constrained this year due to the global impact of COVID-19 so we certainly hope New Zealanders will support our local growers and buy an extra punnet or two – which shouldn't be hard considering the quality of this year's crop."