Christmas staple in short supply

00:14, Dec 26 2012
Southland Times photo
Rob's Rural Market fruit stall workers Matthew Ryley and Val Joyce, both of Earnscleugh, were busy selling cherries to customers on Monday.

Shiny, plump cherries are a staple on New Zealand's Christmas dinner tables but this year they were in short supply, with the season running about two weeks behind schedule.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and fruit grower Gary Bennetts, of Roxburgh, said the harvest was running late because of a colder spring.

"The colder spring had an effect on crop size and it's lighter this year," Mr Bennetts said.

However, some much-needed heat helped kick-start the season and the cherries were expected to be of a good quality, he said.

Dawson and sonnet were two of the most common varieties at this time of the year.

It was hoped growers in the region would harvest more than the 1400 tonnes exported last year. Central Otago supplies 95 per cent of New Zealand's export cherries.

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The busiest time for cherry sales was the week leading up to Christmas.

Rob's Rural Market fruit stall worker Val Joyce, of Earnscleugh, said cherries had been "going out the door like hot cakes".

However, there should still be plenty of cherries for the Cromwell Cherry Festival on January 4.

Contestants at the festival compete to spit a cherry stone the farthest and the chance to represent New Zealand at the Cherry Harmony Festival Australasian championships held in Manjimup, Western Australia.

The Southland Times