A polar blast that dumped half a metre of snow on the central North Island is straining infrastructure across the country.    About 400 homes in the Taupo district and parts of Hawke’s Bay are still without power after the weekend snowstorm brought down about 200 power poles.  Hawkes Bay was worst-hit, but freezing temperatures have created treacherous conditions on roads across the country.    And as we’ll hear from Philip Duncan and Weather Watch dot co dot nz there is no reprieve from the cold yet  with a high-pressure ridge coming across the country over the next few days.     The Napier-Taupo Road and the Desert Road were both closed because of snow.   200 power poles had fallen down and others, although upright, were twisted and wires were broken with more than  snow 60cm of snow which settled on power lines, eventually dragging the poles over and creating a domino effect.    About 25-30 poles came down on Lochinver Station with wires down e right through the Landcorp block. It could take three weeks to repair the situation with generators being brought into to provide power.  Unison manager Danny Gough says they have a fleet of generators available and they will be in place as soon as the road is clear.

*

And in the South Island a high-pressure ridge over the next few days will bring fine weather to the South Island, but more sub-zero temperatures with it.    Temperatures fell to – 8°C in Alexandra and  – 6° in Queenstown  last night, and light snow has fallen in the Ranfurly Naseby area this morning.  And  60 kilometres from Taupo in Upper Mohaka rain has washed out a large section of the local road leaving farmers stranded without power and phone.    A large slip has closed part of State Highway 2 in eastern Bay of Plenty.    We’ll catch up on the latest situation with Will Foley in Hawkes Bay shortly

*

Europe’s fruit and vegetable sector is facing radical change, with far-reaching consequences for fresh produce  suppliers not only in Europe, but also New Zealand, according to   Rabobank’s senior fruit  and vegetable analyst Cindy van Rijswick.   Based at the bank’s global headquarters in the Netherlands, Ms van Rijswick says  New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable sector is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities arising from changing international horticulture markets.
Cindy van Rijswick says European consumption  of ‘non-staple’ fruits like kiwifruit and premium apples is very good news for New Zealand’s horticulture sector, adding that out of all southern hemisphere-exporting countries, New-Zealand is the best positioned to take advantage of this with its good reputation, high-quality fruit, efficient growers and strong exporters.  She says another high growth area is avocados which is a global phenomenon, just like berries.    She says while demand out of Asia for fruit and vegetables is increasing,  Europe is not expected to become a significant supplier into the Asian market and  the opportunities in Asia, for New Zealand horticulture, are very good.

*

A million more new apple trees are being planted across the country as international demand for New Zealand apples continues to soar.    Pipfruit New Zealand’s chief executive Alan Pollard, says  New Zealand’s world-leading apple industry is transforming into a billion dollar export business.   He says all growing regions are experiencing increased industry investment with the apple industry putting  hundreds of millions of dollars back into the local economies  with huge spin-offs for local businesses and for growing jobs.   Alan Pollard says Nelson’s Waimea Nurseries, now has a three-year back order on some rootstock types, and Managing Director Mike Simpson says in four years his family’s business has literally doubled production and is employing more than 100 full time staff and has plans  for more growth.

Mother Nature has provided a sharp reminder to all of us that it is winter. In the South Island A cold blast of weather brought a decent dump of snowfall and these conditions are forecast to persist through this week.   With lambing beginning to get underway in some areas,  the early lambers have been low enough and north enough to avoid being significantly affected. The last of the mild weather is now behind the South Island, and August will bring tougher conditions for lambing and calving.    In the North August is showing its true winter potential with a cold blast hitting the eastern side of the island at the weekend which will certainly have been a tough blow for the many farmers in these parts in the middle of lambing, however the rain that is expected to come with it, will go a long way to replenishing depleted water tables. The majority of the North Island continues to battle with too much rain, although the temperatures to date have been mild. Feed remains tight in the Hawke’s Bay, and the outlook for August predicts the upper half of the North Island will have average temperatures and above normal rainfall for the month, while the lower half will be colder than average and above normal rainfall

The rostrum was a good place to hide out of the ‘weather’, though cold conditions had little affect on prices.  Of the 93 lines recorded, just 15 small lines sold under $3/kg, which was no small task, given the weight of some of the older cattle.     R2 Angus steers were a highlight, and at 472-575kg, sold for $1580-$1885 at $3.28-$3.37/kg, with prices very similar to 2015 levels. Friesian bulls were as popular as ever, with 464-489kg trading at $3.13- $3.16/kg, and heavier lines $2.93-$3.06/kg.   Ang & A/Here x , 329-330kg, made $3.15-$3.24/kg, with Angus, 330-370kgs at $2.96-$3.01/kg.    36 R1 Friesian bulls, 278-283kg, sold for $935-$952 at $3.36/kg.  Store lamb numbers dropped sharply to 5,400, though a big yarding of breeding ewes was substituted in. Some buyers opted to stay at home by the fire as conditions were unsavory, with the coldest snap this winter sweeping up the country. Those that were in attendance for the store lambs kept their hands warm in their pockets, and overall the market eased.    Ewe lambs were mainly medium types and sold for $84-$96, with a small top end earning $105-$118. A smaller offering of male lambs mainly made $86-$117, with mixed sex at $83-$104. The estimated 33kg indicator price eased to $2.84/kg, which is 51.58% of the PM2 schedule Good to very good Romney’s made $109-$135, with 5yr Romney, SIL, selling to $145. Dry 2th ewes sold for $59-$71, and MA, $40-$64.