Berry farmers picking a last minute crush

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013

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Berry farmers are expecting "crazy" Christmas sales today.

While there should be plenty for everyone, some berry farmers say that good weather has meant a slightly earlier season, meaning they are picking fewer berries than usual for this time of year.

Gary McMahon, owner of The Strawberry Farm in Tamahere, said good weather meant the crop peaked ten days earlier than usual.

"We had a huge glut of strawberries, and people actually predicted we would be short for Christmas. We haven't got a surplus by any means."

However, he said he had been stocking up for some time so "there should be plenty of berries for everyone".

He has already had around 700 kilograms of boysenberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries ordered, and expects to sell that much again today.

Sales are five to six times greater on Christmas Eve than other summer days for the business, with Mr McMahon saying it "goes absolutely crazy".

The Olde Berry Farm's owner, Peter Molloy, said he was in good shape for today's rush. He has been in the industry for 15 years, and says this year has been one of the better ones.

"We're in good shape, this is a good year. There is plenty of fruit just sitting on the bush waiting."

He expects sales today will triple his usual weekend receipts.

Greg Furniss, managing director of Blueberry Country in Ohaupo, which only sells blueberries, said this was one of the best years to date.

"You couldn't get it [the stock] in much better condition than it is at the moment."

He said Blueberry Country had sold about twice as much as it usually does before Christmas, and estimated around 400 kilograms of berries had been picked so far.

"Like every year for the last decade demand just keeps going up, we are double on our previous best year which was last year right before Christmas."

Raewyn Matthews, of Purunui Berries in Newstead, says they have an ample supply of strawberries and are also selling gooseberries. The farm usually sells about six times as many berries in the run-up to Christmas than it does on a normal day.

All four farms are open daily except Christmas Day.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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