Berries plentiful, but likely dearer

PETER WATSON
Last updated 13:00 14/12/2012
Ashleigh Sands and Miriam Burgess
COLIN SMITH/Fairfax NZ

FLAT OUT: Ashleigh Sands and Miriam Burgess pick raspberries at Daelyn berry gardens in Richmond.

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There will be plenty of berries for Christmas - but they might cost you more.

Fine weather since flowering in late October has produced one of the best crops of boysenberries and raspberries for several years, with pick-your-own operations already under way.

Last year, a cool and wet growing season meant a late and smaller harvest, with much of the crop not ripening until close to New Year.

Peter Kristovski, of Berrylands, said picking of what was a bumper crop had been going for a week and trading had been extremely busy.

"We assumed we would slowly get into it, but it's gone absolutely mad."

Berrylands had hired about 60 people to pick its 3.5 hectares of boysenberries, 2ha of raspberries and 0.5ha of strawberries at Appleby, with people desperate for work, he said.

"People have been queuing up for jobs as there are very few around.

"Our phones have been ringing all the time with people wanting work."

It had taken on a mix of students, local Asians and some tourists, Mr Kristovski said.

The withdrawal of two major boysenberry growers last year had meant less fruit was on the market, which had pushed up prices by about 20 per cent, he said.

A 900 gram pack of raspberries cost about $15.50, boysenberries $14.50 and strawberries - which were more plentiful - $10.

Stephen Sutton, of Daelyn, said picking of its 4ha of boysenberries had also begun at its long-running gardens next to Saxton Field.

"The weather has been ideal and fruit quality is looking excellent."

It had taken on about 50 people for the harvest, which Mr Sutton confirmed was likely to be one of the last because Daelyn's lease of the land from the Tasman District Council was drawing to an end.

Its fruit prices were similar to last year, he said.

Daelyn was yesterday charging $7.50 per kilogram to pick your own fruit and about $12 for a 900g punnet.

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- The Nelson Mail

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