During my time as a Hort consultant and then later in the R&D space I was advised to stop look and listen. The listen bit was for machinery that might run me over. That stop and look is something that I have tried to do even in jobs that are more desk based.
The recent offer to do just this on cyclone affected blocks, with the help of a hort professional from AgFirst or Fruition for free seemed to be a very generous offer. As growers we tend to put heads down and get on with it when the big picture needs a bit of time as well. For those who are able to recover from Gabrielle’s visit the systemic weakness in the system may well be talking to you. I’ve seen shelter species that are dying from what could be wet feet with the neighbouring tree of a different species looking fine. There are fruit varieties that are more susceptible than others and certainly age-related and rootstock responses. Trees that were already in trouble due to the wet growing season have now been finished off. This could well be a good thing. These are the beginnings of decision making such as ‘this old block of apricots with dying trees should now come out completely’. It will make recovering from the silt overlay easier as bigger machinery can be used.
Looking at blocks as you drive or ride past, I’m seeing that those that have had good inputs over time are in better nick than those that haven’t. Maybe its imagination, maybe its observation. And now that I’m looking a little closer there are number of small stone fruit blocks that I suspect are not in the Summerfruit system. That’s fine until something happens, be it a cyclone or a biosecurity incursion when we all need to hang tough together. If this event has highlighted anything it’s that working together, all the parts of all our industries, we are more likely to get stuff done. Now would be a good time to connect or reconnect with the Hawkes Bay Fruitgrowers Association who are doing some very good work.
Getting stuff done in this post Gabrielle environment for affected growers is painfully slow. Whether its contactors, Councils or Central Government we are all waiting for the next announcement to proceed. For some of us oldies this waiting might be too much. I suspect there will be some who say enough, I’m out, which would be a reasonable response. It’s heartening to watch the smart young, Brittany’s, Kurt’s and Jack’s (see Orchardist April 2023), the Young Grower contestants, all the orchard apprentices get involved in decision making.
Is this the right time to take a step back and encourage the next generation with new ideas to have the loud voice. They may well take the opportunity anyway.
It’s always about the people. The old connections renewed, and the new connections made that help make this game worthwhile. There will be some good outcomes following Gabrielle, even if we cannot yet see them.
Summerfruit Technical Advisor