Weather threat to berry crops

JACQUIE WEBBY
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013
raspberries
FINGERS CROSSED: Fruit growers in South Canterbury have their fingers crossed bad weather won't affect their berry crops.

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The rush to meet the Christmas demand for fresh strawberries and raspberries at Butler's Berry Farm in Waimate means extra pickers and long, busy days.

Butler's Berry Farm spokesperson Jackie Butler said the farm has been "very busy" since the start of the season and some extra pickers have been employed to get the plump, ripe fruit off the plants and ready for sale.

The farm avoided the hail and heavy rain earlier in the week and Mrs Butler is hopeful the same will apply to the second round of severe weather, likely to bring thunder storms, hail and high winds, and due to roll through much of the South Island between now and the weekend.

Butler's Berry Farm has no protection for their strawberries and raspberries.

"We just keep our fingers crossed," she said.

Jo Malone of Redwood Cherries and Berries in Pleasant Point is hoping the sunshine pokes its nose out for a few days very soon.

"Strawberries need sunshine to ripen and although the rain this week was welcome, we look forward to having a few sunny days," she said. "The downside of having too much rain is the possibility of mould."

Customers looking for fresh cherries for Christmas will have to look elsewhere after Redwood Cherries and Berries' early crop was wiped out by winter frosts.

"Our cherries will not be available until early January and they are covered with nets to protect against possible hail," she said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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