A fruitful harvest in Southland

Prue Fraser enjoying a beautiful morning while picking raspberries on her berry farm. PHOTO: Claire Kaplan

Berry farms around Southland are celebrating a bumper harvest, with plenty of fruit sales and enthusiastic pickers.

Prue's Berries, located just outside of Te Anau, has had a strong growing season, with the harvest starting three weeks earlier than usual.

Prue's Berries owner Prue Fraser said that, as of Monday (January 8), 1800kg of fruit had been picked.

"We had a heap of fruit for Christmas which is very, very unusual."

The harvest had increased dramatically in comparison to last year, with much more fruit ripe for the picking.

"We were picking around 70kg a day whereas last year we struggled to get 30 to 40kg. Everything has come in really fast."

Mrs Fraser said so far everything was going really well with one particular berry in high demand.

"Everyone wants raspberries."

The farm also grows tayberries, blackberries and boysenberries, and the fruit is sold fresh and frozen.

"I'm selling heaps of kilos up at the house."

Mrs Fraser said the great harvest could be put down to the hot weather, allowing her to irrigate and get plenty of water on the crops. The heat also plays a major part in the taste of the berries.

"Because of the heat, that makes everything really sweet," she said.

"It's all top quality berries."

Mrs Fraser said she still has frozen fruit available for people to purchase.

"There's plenty of fruit for jams, muffins, whatever they want to make."

Blueberry Country Southland, just out of Otautau, is another place in Southland where the harvest arrived three weeks early.

General manager Simon Bardon said he thought the plentiful harvest was down to two things: the weather, particularly a mild winter, and the care taken during the growing season.

"We're really excited about the quality of the fruit... we care about what we're doing. We've been very focused on achieving a crop that's going to present best at the table and give us the best yield."

"I'm looking forward to seeing a nice long season."

Blueberry Country opened its 'Pick your own' season to the public on Saturday, December 30 last year, and last Thursday (January 4) marked the first day of commercial picking.

Mr Bardon said Blueberry Country was slowly building up picker numbers and he was happy to welcome up to 40 staff in the next fortnight that he could induct and train thoroughly.

The public 'Pick your own' sessions have also continued to be a huge success, with one of the busiest days being held last weekend.

"The numbers have been wonderful," he said.

"It's been lovely to see how many families are coming out, the fact they can enjoy some family time and do something that's not expensive... with us we've got an experience."

Mr Bardon said he was hoping to have blueberry ice cream at the orchard this weekend, a selection of fresh and frozen fruit for sale, and an EFTPOS machine.

People can stay informed via updates on the Blueberry Country Southland Facebook page.


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