Drenched gardens bode badly for summer treats

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2014

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Long spells of wet weather drenching Otaki and Horowhenua during the past couple of months have dented hopes of a good strawberry crop this year.

Brent Bertelsen, owner of Penray Gardens at Te Horo, said his crops of strawberries and salad vegetables would be down a third on last year's.

He usually laid polythene for his strawberries in April, but said that constant wet weather had delayed him doing so until about a fortnight ago.

He had also had to reduce the amount of polythene, and cut back on his usual strawberry planting by about a third.

"The tractor was sinking . . . we will have to plant other crops at the end of rows," he said.

Woodhaven Gardens owner John Clarke, who grows green-leafed vegetables such as lettuce, spring onions, cabbage and spinach on about 245 hectares in Levin, said the number of wet days, rather than the amount of rain that had fallen, had affected vegetable production markedly.

"We went from a drought till April to rain that has not stopped. It has been extremely wet . . . It has been a nightmare."

Because there had been big gaps in planting, there would be gaps in production later, depending on the spring, Clarke said.

"Right now, you do not want to be a market gardener."

According to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Levin received about twice the average rainfall in April, 134 per cent in May and 59 per cent calculated so far for June.

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- The Dominion Post

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