First Fresh News

Citrus crop quality leaves a sweet taste

The quality of lemons, mandarins and oranges coming off Gisborne trees in the annual citrus harvest has been “very good”, says First Fresh managing director Ian Albers.

The lemon harvest started in late April.

“The fruit quality has been very good, particularly with the Meyer and Yen Ben varieties.

“In general, the lemon crop is up on last year, particularly with the Meyers, and it has been quite a strong export season for them so far.

“Lemons are still being picked but we are over the peak with the Meyers,” he said.

Harvest conditions for all citrus varieties had been good this year given the dry conditions in May and June.

“The mandarin harvest also started in late April and after a bit of supply pressure through the early part of May, the market has lifted in the past six weeks.”

Supply pressure was caused by “sluggish” retail sales.

“The Satsuma mandarin season still has about two-to-three weeks to run,” said Mr Albers.

“It was an ‘off’ year in terms of crop quantity but the quality has been very good.”

The “off” and “on” seasons for citrus come down to what has been referred to as “biennial bearing”, whereby fruit trees will have a large crop one year, then a smaller one the next.

The navel orange pick started about two weeks ago.

“The Gisborne navel season is only just getting under way and there have only been fruit in the market since the beginning of the month,” Mr Albers said.

“Fruit quality in terms of finish and taste is very good with the oranges this year.”

The navel season runs into December. Gisborne has traditionally been the major producer of navel oranges in the country.

“The target harvest this year is down about 20 percent on last year because, as with the mandarins, it has been an ‘off’ season for navels as well.”

Waerenga a hika farmer Reid Jobson, who grows lemons, mandarins, and navel and Valencia oranges, said apart from navels, he had finished most of his harvest.

“It’s been a good one in terms of quality and quantity for us.

“We have had slightly more fruit on the trees this year than average. It’s been not quite an ‘off’ year for us.

“It fluctuates in the district, from grower to grower,” said Mr Jobson.

“We’ve been quite happy with the way the season has gone and hope to see a bit more of a return for our fruit.”

Source; The Gisborne Herald