TODAY |

Central Otago cherry crops destroyed in days of torrential rain

Wild weather has brought more devastation for South Island fruit growers, this time Central Otago orchardists are feeling the pain.

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Millions of dollars’ worth of cherries have been destroyed at the start of the year. Source: 1 NEWS

Days of torrential rain have destroyed around half the cherry crops, worth millions of dollars.

Harry Roberts has been growing cherries in Central Otago for more than half a century, and this is his worst season ever.

Hundreds of thousands of cherries nearing harvest are split and ruined.

Rain was still falling this afternoon, leaving fields sodden and packhouses empty.

It's feared if it doesn't stop soon the damage will grow, with Roberts saying 100 per cent of his cherries could be wiped out.

Summerfruits New Zealand says some orchardists have already lost their entire crop, while others have lost between 30 and 60 per cent.

Growers have ramped up planting in recent years because of skyrocketing demand from overseas markets which take 90 per cent of the fruit.

It's not just cherries under threat, other stone fruit like apricots are also affected.

While the weather forecast is expected to improve over the coming week, many fear the damage has already been done.