We have always considered asparagus one of the safest horticultural crops, but this year has been the exception. Fortunately we very seldom get a spring like the one just experienced. It is unusual to ﬁnd even weeds retarded in their growth, but this year weeds that germinated quite early have put on very little growth. This is an indication of conditions. Asparagus is extremely sensitive to soil and air temperature and humidity, and conditions suitable to growth were just not forthcoming.
In spite of poor asparagus production, our output has been reasonably maintained by the fact that we had greater areas in production. So, though it’s little consolation to our growers, at least the consumer will be well supplied.
This crop has done well this season and is the one crop that thrived on the heavy downpour in October. There is no doubt that this crop requires plenty of moisture, and only areas actually under water for some time were adversely affected.
Broad beans are being produced for freezing and canning. The green-seeded variety is needed for the frozen trade, and our quota will be reached quite easily. Harvesting of these commenced in early November. Crops varied greatly between different properties. Some set pods near the bottom of the plant only, while others, planted at the same time, grew taller and set pods well up the stem. Apart from an obvious improvement where there was adequate shelter, we have not been able to ascertain the cause of such a marked variation.
The white-seeded variety of broad beans has been grown exclusively for canning. It has taken much longer to mature than the green-seeded type, but should yield our desired requirements. The future of broad beans for canning hangs on the outcome of this crop. Pods are not large, but tend to be of a tighter nature, making for greater weight in a given bulk. Apart from the odd poor crop, prospects of good returns for growers are bright.
Prospects for a good pea crop seem reasonably assured. Fortunately, ﬂood conditions occurred early enough for the planned planting to be done in full, as the areas that were flooded have been replanted. The area in peas is an all-time record, being approximately 3,700 acres between the two districts.
In Gisborne, nearly seven inches of rain stopped planting for a month, but the full area was planted by the third week in November. Cold and wet conditions have made growth slow, and crops will be later than usual. Conditions have also made weed control difficult, but improvement in conditions since the rain has enabled good weed control to be gained eventually, with satisfactory results. Crops in the main, given good conditions from now on, should be satisfactory. The actual loss of crop due to rain was only about ﬁfty acres.
In Hastings, nearly 350 acres had to be replanted. This, plus the loss in time due to wet conditions, has made planting very late. The last areas should be sown by the end of the ﬁrst week in December, which is three weeks later than anticipated. Fortunately the ﬁrst 1,000 acres, planted on early well-drained ground, have not suffered any loss, so early deliveries will not be affected in any way, except being a few days late in harvesting, due to slow growing conditions. Given reasonable conditions in the latter part of the season, the average yield should be satisfactory and far in excess of that of last year.
The planting of this crop has been later and spread over a long period than usual. Planting was held up due to ﬂooding of a Napier nursery supplying plants both in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. However, with the cool nights and poor growing conditions, this could be all to the good, as early plantings have been slow in getting under way. So, given a reasonable ripening season, we have every reason to suppose that tomatoes will be in good supply. We are requiring as big a percentage of tomatoes suitable for canning whole, as possible. We hope the weather conditions will improve as the season goes on, to give us quality as well as quantity.
Last year we had a record pear pack, nearly 25 per cent. higher than we have ever had before. Hawke’s Bay produced an all-time record crop of pears as a whole. We seldom get two exceptionally heavy crops in a row, and this is borne out this