Apples await pickers under red netting at an orchard near Umukurī, on the west bank of the Motueka River, in autumn 2010. The netting protects against hail damage, but it is expensive, and is only used for high-value apple varieties. Some orchardists also claim that the red mesh creates a better growing environment, enhancing the red colour of the fruit and increasing yield, but as at 2010 there was no research to support these claims. One local orchardist calculated the netting paid for itself in two years, due to savings on hail insurance and better crop yields. In 2007 the Tasman Action Group, a group of Riwaka and Motueka residents, described the netting as an eyesore. Calling it a ‘red scourge’, they were concerned that large areas would be covered. The group took several orchardists and the Tasman District Council to the Environment Court, but the court ruled against the protesters.
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Photograph by Carl Walrond
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