PickMee! summerfruit trees are in full blossom, with almost perfect conditions producing good strong flowering for pollination, to grow crops of nectarines, plums and peaches in time for Christmas.
“Blossom is right on time, with plenty of flowers for the bees to do their work,” says John Altham, whose family business is a major New Zealand producer under the PickMee! brand into Countdown supermarkets.
Mr Altham has been growing summerfruit in both Hawke’s Bay and Hamilton for over 50 years. During winter his family planted thousands of more summerfruit trees with both new earlier and later varieties to extend the season “so Kiwis can keep enjoy eating more summerfruit for longer”.
With his 50ha of summerfruit trees a picture of pink (nectarines and peaches) and white (plum) blossom, Mr Altham says New Zealand demand for eating fresh, health fruit just keeps on growing.
“This season under our PickMee! brand we’ll grow and pack out over a million kilos of nectarines, peaches and plums for Countdown – it’s an exciting time for growth in our business and across the industry”.
Mr Altham said over recent years the outstanding success of New Zealand’s pipfruit industry has seen many growers replace their smaller summerfruit blocks with more popular higher value export apple varieties.
“But for us, summerfruit is an important part of our overall business mix. Having summerfruit along with pipfruit, has enabled us to create more better paying, permanent jobs for New Zealanders. We’ve also opened a new state-of-the-art $25million pack and cool operation, which has future proofed the business ready for increasing production as new plantings come on stream,” he said.
In three month’s time, PickMee!’s first nectarines and peaches will be harvested for sale, followed by plums which will go through to April combining with the apple harvest starting at the end of January.
CAPTION: PickMee!’s managing director John Altham (left) and orchard block manager Schalk Fourie checking out nectarine trees in full bloom at Ruahapia Road, Hastings.