Apple pickers wanted

Picking apples at Levels are Hong Kong bank worker Aloha Ngai, top, and merchandiser Kelly Kwan. The pair are taking a working holiday in New Zealand.

Dry weather is providing a helping hand to a local orchard months after hail wrecked up to half its crop.

M A Orchards manager Red Martin said on Friday the Levels orchard’s Honeycrisp apples were “looking good” after months of dry weather. Martin said about 80 workers, including 70 pickers, were harvesting the apples.

The American-owned firm would then have the apples trucked to Nelson for packing before they were exported to the United States, as a supply for the Northern Hemisphere country’s off-season. MA Orchards would look for another 10 workers next week to keep up with the fast rate of maturation.

A hailstorm in November damaged fruit at the orchard’s 19-hectare Kerrytown Rd block before contractors had finished installing hail netting. Martin said dry weather late in the growing season was good for the fruit’s quality, particularly its “dry matter”, which improved its texture and flavour.