16 Jun

Olive growers fear frosts

By Helen Murdoch

North Canterbury olive growers have sweated in the snow this week trying to complete their harvests before more frosts bite.

Graham Keen, of Canterbury Olive Processors, said some growers had had their trees flattened by Monday’s heavy snowfall. Others, who escaped snow damage, had suffered major fruit losses in Wednesday’s frost, in which temperatures fell to minus 6deg in parts of the region.

Those with well-ripened fruit, however, had largely survived the inclement weather, with the high oil content of the olives largely staving off frost and snow damage, he said.

“The snow has not been a problem in most areas because the temperature was not that low, but it’s taking a while to go,” said Keen, who was harvesting a snow-filled grove on Wednesday.

“But it was so heavy in some areas that trees were broken.”

Growers with large, well-ripened fruit suffered the least in the cold snap, he said.

Phil Clausen, of Athena Olives and Waipara Valley Olives, said the snow caused few problems and his groves were not affected by Wednesday’s frost.

“But I suspect a lot of growers will have suffered some damage.

While this season’s oil quality was yet to be determined, the fruit quality was fantastic, he said.

“We had such a good summer and the fruit has a high oil content because it is so ripe,” he said.

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