Benefits and Disadvantages
Citrus is most productively grown in the subtropics, which means that New Zealand can be a marginal climate for commercial production. This limits growers to varieties that can still produce well under our growing conditions. The last twenty years have seen a growth in citrus research in New Zealand with the primary aim being to produce more fruit to export standard so that we can better compete internationally with fruit grown in places that appear much better suited to citrus production, such as California, South Africa, and Queensland.
While the New Zealand citrus industry is at a disadvantage in some ways, in others it is at a distinct advantage. In recent years a number of major citrus producing regions overseas have suffered from outbreaks of citrus canker, a bacterial disease that causes blemishes on fruit and can cause tree dieback. There is no effective treatment – the only means of control is to remove and burn infected trees. New Zealand is free from citrus canker, and has no fruit fly problems or citrus black spot. Another advantage is that our climate can result in fruit maturing at different times to other countries - New Zealand is the only country in which navel oranges are at optimum maturity in September to November.
Japan, the USA Pacific Islands are New Zealand’s largest export markets. See the export page here for up to date stats.