Updated: Feb 15, 2021
We have all bought cherries with cracks in them. They not only don’t look as good as undamaged cherries, they get moldy and spoil very quickly. Have you ever wondered how the cracks got there? Cherry fruit skins are not very thick and when it rains just before harvest these cherries can absorb so much water into the fruit that their skins split.
This last season was a particularly challenging year for New Zealand grape and cherry growers because of high precipitation levels in parts of the country that are normally dry. Many growers lost so much fruit that they didn’t even bother harvesting their fruit which makes cherries difficult to find in the stores and increases the price we pay for them.
Cherry growers are particularly vulnerable to rain events late in the growing season. Shockingly it is not uncommon to have one good year when you are growing cherries. To reduce the damage to their fruit the cherry growers have tried everything from covering the trees with plastic sheeting to spraying calcium on the fruit to strengthen the skins. Some have even tried spraying a thin layer of latex on the fruit to create a barrier to keep water from getting in. Unsurprisingly the consumers are not keen on these solutions since calcium leaves a white layer on cherries and no one wants to eat latex covered fruit – no matter how thin the coverage may be.
“The positive result with SPLIT FIX on reducing split in cherries, and split and botrytis in grapes suggests the product has considerable potential to assist cherry and grape growers achieve higher yields of quality fruit.” David Jacobsen, Viticulture Consultant, Blenheim Marlborough
Grapes are not quite as prone to splitting as cherries but the grape growers also have their share of problems with splitting. A grape that has split will allow a fungal infection called botrytis to get established in the grape bunches. If the fungus infection is bad enough the grower can lose their entire crop. New Zealand wineries have very high standards for their
fruit and will not accept substandard fruit from their growers. Imagine your disappointment if you worked all year to grow a crop and then lost all of it just before the harvest. One of the Marlborough Growers we know has lost 1.2 million dollars to botrytis this year and they are not the only one.
To solve this problem a Nelson company Waikaitu Ltd. has come up with the world’s purest seaweed-based product called SPLIT FIX to help cherries and grapes naturally regulate the water pressure inside the fruit and significantly reduce splitting.
In Cherries, independent testing has shown a reduction in splitting by 55%. And in grapes botrytis infection was reduced by 5 times from 68% to 13% incidence because their product reduced and delayed splitting during one of the rainiest late seasons in recent memory. And what is even more remarkable is that it is done organically, with a completely natural and food-safe product based on locally harvested seaweed and other natural ingredients.
Alex Pressman CEO Waikaitu Ltd