Disappointing summer affects olive yields
Olive picking on Waiheke Island has now started but elsewhere in the country it's going to be a late and lean harvest.
Moutohora Estate is an olive grove situated in Thornton, 15km west of Whakatane and 8 km southwards of Whale Island (Moutohora).
Owners Gerrit and Wil Kruithoed have been growing olives there for nearly 20 years.
They currently own 600 trees, planted in 2001.
* We're about to suffer a worldwide olive oil shortage
* Poor summer plays havoc with honey collection
* Weather bomb winds play havoc with southern harvest
* Recovery process begins for the regions as ex-Cyclone Cook leaves NZ
But they are looking at a 90 percent reduction in the harvest yield this year because of intense storms in the Bay of Plenty during March.
Olive growers on Waiheke Island, which was also hit by the storms, are also reporting lower yields but not anywhere near to the same extent as Moutohora Estate.
Waiheke multiple award-winning producer Rangihoua Estate estimates around a 13 percent drop in its yields this year.
The estate is late picking its own fruit as well as that of 11 groves belonging to smaller, private owners.
Rangihoua co-owner Anne Stanimiroff said the harvest would normally be well under way, but the olives had been late to ripen without much sunshine.
She said she didn't know how the smaller yield would affect olive oil prices.
"I'll have a better idea when we've finished in around five weeks' time."
Azzuro Groves co-owner Kerry Hart, based on the island's Te Whau peninsula, started harvesting a few days ago.
He said some of the groves were "absolutely loaded" with fruit while others had very little.
"It's been a tough year but I'll be keeping prices the same."
Back at Moutohora Estate, Gerrit Kruithoed said there was very little fruit left on the trees.
"It's not good. We've lost quite a bit.
"But at least we still have our Koroneiki."
Koroneiki are small high-yielding, Greek olives, which are difficult to cultivate but produce high quality oil.
Moutohora Estate's oils are multi-award winning.
In 2011, the estate won the country's Supreme Award of Best in Show, according to Olives New Zealand.
Harvesting should already have begun but poor sunshine has meant picking won't start for at least another two weeks.
"And that's if the starlings and thrushes don't get to them first," Gerrit Kruithoed said.
"It's not worth netting the trees.
"I've heard everyone this year is down on production.
"Up North, the Wairarapa, and probably Canterbury too."
But he said the plus side of so much rain was new growth, which meant next year should be excellent.
Meanwhile, he said the estate's virgin olive oil prices would remain the same as he did not want to deter custom.