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Horticulture: A Growing And Innovative Sector

Kiwifruit, wine grapes and avocados are the horticultural winners when comparing the results from the 2000 horticultural census to the previous census held in 1994. By contrast, apples, pears, nashi and tangelos have all declined in area.

Kiwifruit reigns as our top horticultural crop, earning $588 million in the year to March 2001. However, the final results from the 2000 horticultural census show that the area planted in kiwifruit of 12,184 hectares remained virtually unchanged when compared to the previous census held in 1994.

Apples are our second-biggest export income earner although from 1994 to 2000 the area planted fell by 7 per cent to 14,114 hectares. A major drop in price reduced export income to $369 million for the year to March 2001. Export income was down $116 million on the previous year.

The area in wine grapes totalled 12,665 hectares as at 30 June 2000. This compares to 7,160 hectares in 1994. Wine continues to be the third largest horticultural export, earning $201 million in the year to March 2001. Higher prices per litre have contributed to this increase.

Total land in horticulture between 1994 and 2000 increased by 28 per cent to 128,712 hectares. The census also shows major growth, over the same period, in some of the country’s newer crops.

Avocado export earnings quadrupled between 1994 and 2001 to $26 million. Hectares under avocados have increased by 92 per cent since 1994 to 2,646 hectares. The area in olives, estimated at 1,174 hectares, was measured for the first time in 2000.

Overall the area in outdoor fruit totalled 52,927 hectares. This is an increase of 13 per cent on 1994. The area in outdoor vegetables increased from 55,114 hectares in 1994 to 56,809 hectares in 2000.

Onions were the top vegetable export crop and contributed $90 million to export income in the March 2001 year. The area planted in onions totalled 7,044 hectares in 2000, an increase of 43 per cent on 1994.

Land in potatoes increased by 24 per cent since 1994 to 11,816 hectares. It was the largest vegetable crop in terms of area in 2000. Other significant vegetable exports were peas, squash and sweetcorn. As at 30 June 2000, the area planted in these crops was 7,570 hectares in peas, 6713 hectares in squash and 6,380 hectares in sweetcorn.

The census of horticulture was carried out by Statistics New Zealand under contract to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It comes one year after the livestock and arable cropping surveys were reinstated. Funding constraints meant agricultural production surveys were not carried out between 1996 and 1999.

Funding for future surveys has recently been announced and planning is now underway for a 2002 census which will cover all horticultural and agricultural operations.

MAF senior policy analyst, Mieke Wensvoort says this will provide important and accurate information for Government and for industries to be able to forecast and plan. Horticulture is a dynamic and growing sector of our economy and up-to-date, consistent survey data are vital to monitor change for this sector.

The horticultural industry earned $1.9 billion in export receipts for the year to March 2001. A vast range of fruit and vegetables was exported, and there were many smaller contributors which together earned in excess of $400 million. The census shows that considerable changes have taken place in the area planted for these crops as shown in the attached table. A profile of horticulture in New Zealand including regional commentaries is also attached.

The export data in this release is provisional and includes fresh, frozen, dried and preserved fruits and vegetables but excludes juices and highly processed items.


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