We've Entered the Home Stretch! / by Kathy Dunbar

We've entered the home stretch at Freestyle Farms.  We've just finished harvesting Nelson Sauvin and are quickly moving on to Pacific Jade and Green Bullet.  I'm expecting the last day of harvest this season to be on Wednesday 29-Mar (depending on the intensity of this weekends forecast rain).  The whole team is getting pretty beat by this point (including me), but when I reflect on what we've accomplished this season and the results of harvest so far, I'm left truly excited and already looking forward to next year.

This last week, the picker continued to charge through the Nelson Sauvin, while hitting the 1% or lower leaf and stem numbers we're looking for.  After this week we feel that we've well and truly confirmed our suspicion that picking Nelson earlier rather than later is critical, and that brown, damaged cones should be avoided like the plague.  We continue to be pleased with the results of the fertigation on the Rakau blocks we just harvested and really like the aromas there.  More data on that experiment is coming soon!

This season has continued to be unusually cold and wet as you can see from the updated cumulative degree days chart below and unsurprisingly production across NZ has been impacted.  Based on what we're seeing right now it looks like production will be down 10% to 20% on last years numbers.  Considering the historically low degree days and series of storms we've received that's a pretty good result for all NZ growers after last years excellent season.

Below are a few photos that follow the harvest processes on the farm from a better than average day earlier in the week.