Weather blamed for poor apricot season

22:49, Jan 07 2013
Graeme Dowling
Birch Grove Orchard owners Graeme Dowling, left, and his son Richard Dowling sort through some of the last of the apricots from this year’s short season.

Apricot lovers may be out of luck for picking their own fruit in Marlborough this season, as some growers remain shut for what is usually their busiest time of the year.

Primac Horticulture owner Murray Neal made the decision not to open his orchard this year because of what he said was an extremely poor apricot season that produced an unusually small crop.

"We got a small amount of fruit, but there was not enough to make opening this season economically viable.

"Normally we would be ripping into it at this time of the year, but instead I'm in Christchurch watching the cricket," he said.

The cause of the small crop this year was the weather in January last year, Mr Neal said.

"Because of the really weird summer, or the summer we didn't have last year, there was not enough warmth and the crop was not able to set up enough fruit buds," he said.


Richard Dowling, who owns the biggest apricot crop remaining in Marlborough, at Birch Grove Orchard, said while they were usually in full swing during the first two weeks of January, their crop was also virtually done and dusted.

"We usually send away 30 to 50 tonnes of apricots [to buyers], whereas this year we only sent 11 tonnes, due to such a small crop," Mr Dowling said.

As well as sending fruit to buyers in Christchurch, Nelson and Westport, Birch Grove also allows the public to pick their own apricots.

Mr Dowling said picking usually started about Boxing Day and continues until about January 15, but the orchard had virtually been picked out during the weekend, with only a small amount of fruit left.

There were no trevatt apricots available this year, which would be disappointing for many people as they were popular for their sweet taste.

Birch Grove was about to send away their last shipment of seconds to Westport, with Mr Dowling saying even seconds were going fast.

"We've sold out of virtually all the seconds.

"Normally this time of year we're full into it - we've had a very average to poor season."

The Marlborough Express