Cherry crop ‘exceptional’

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Warm weather and an early result has been a boon for Cromwell cherry growers.

New Zealand Cherry Corp sales manager Reece van der Velden of Cromwell said it was the best season in 10 years.

“The perfect growing conditions, dry, and heaps of sunshine – exactly what cherries love,” Mr van der Velden said.

The quality was very high, as well, he said.

“This is quality we haven’t seen in 10 years. It is exceptional quality and will be a grade standard higher than anything previously found in the international markets for cherries,” he said.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman Tim Jones, of Cromwell, said the early season in Central Otago would have an effect on deliveries of cherries in time for Chinese New Year, on February 16.

The season would probably be finished three weeks before the festival date, he said.

Christchurch International Airport communications manager Yvonne Densem said two 747 freighters which operated direct to Singapore on January 5 included cherry loads, and a Tasman Cargo B757 freighter had been visiting visiting weekly since late November and was expected to continue doing so for the remainder of January.

However extra flights that were put on last year to deliver cherries in time for Chinese New Year were unlikely to be repeated this year, because the unseasonably hot December meant the cherries came early in the season, she said.

New Zealand cherry corp general manager Ricky Larsen was keen to encourage more New Zealanders to take advantage of seasonal opportunities in the cherry industry.

Only around 10% of applicants were Kiwis, he said.

He said pickers on their orchard could earn up to $400 a day and those in the packhouse could earn up to $1000 a week during the cherry season.