The Level 5 Diploma in Fruit Production has ‘plan and manage’ at its core. Environmental issues such climate change and water conservation are going to require planning for and managing. It was 28 degrees in Napier earlier in the week. A record for this time of year. Additionally, below average rainfall means that soil moisture levels are low heading into winter. Are these the harbingers of climate change? Whether they are or not, they pose problems for our industry in terms of huge issues such as water conservation and pest and disease control. To avoid major complications these issues require planning and managing.

The qualifications that our graduates attain, all have these types of issues underpinning the delivery. But I want to make a particular mention of the Level 5 Diploma in Fruit Production because planning and managing all the resources we use to grow fruit is at the forefront of this qualification. This course is part-time and the timetable is designed to avoid peak on job commitments.  We encourage businesses to identify employees who may be seeking a future management role. Now that the harvest is over the EIT classes are ramping up again.

This week the Year 1 trainees who started after the harvest are having the catch up classes. We know that managers often identify talent during the harvest so we have always scheduled these catch up classes. If the trainees complete them it means that they will be on the same footing as those who started at the beginning of the year. As this class has grown significantly the next fruit support structures classes will be split into smaller groups. Each trainee will be able to book into whichever group suit them the best.

 Year 2 trainees have begun with botany and the second class for this course is on 14 May. May signals a busy month for the Year 2 trainees with a pruning class and soils beginning at the end of the month. It is important that they do not get behind as it is very difficult for them to catch up when they are in full-time employment. A reminder has been sent that their first assignment, harvest criteria is due in this week.

As the pruning season starts it is appropriate that the Year 3 trainees have a pruning class coming up this week. In this class we will look at five different training systems and their advantages and disadvantages. To this end there is a field trip to look at the various systems and to get input from the managers about them. The year 3 trainees also have a busy month with Human Resources and Crop Protection classes coming up.

Last week we had Hans Doevendans talk to the Year 5 students about LEAN. While this topic is not directly assessed it underpins the concept of planning and managing to create effectiveness and efficiency by improving flow. LEAN provides a very good basis for structuring the delivery and assessment of the courses.

As always if you have any queries or concerns please get in touch with EIT Tutor Gordon Reid  greid@eit.ac.nz , 06 8301851 or 027 3940410.

The Primary Sector Awards were held last week with the Horticentre Trust Hawkes Bay Horticulturist of the Year, (co-sponsored by EIT) awarded to RJ Flowers Ltd.

RJ Flowers Ltd currently has three trainees and a long history of supporting kiwis into jobs and training, as well as supporting a large family of RSE workers. Congratulations to Wendy and John Evans, Ron and Chrissy Flowers- well deserved.

As harvest is drawing to an end, trainee classes are about to start again. The first is a tutorial for all year levels on the 29th of April at 4pm. We will welcome back the trainees and remind them of the assessments stretching out in front of them. All the teaching staff will be there as well as a learning facilitator to help with researching.

We are accepting new trainees into Year 1 up until the 29th of April, as we have built in, some catch up classes. If you have any likely candidates please get in touch. We have had an additional 12 enrol since the end of January.

On the 30th of April the Year 1 trainees will complete the theory day for Fruit Support Structures. This involves tying wires and setting up posts and end assemblies. This is a valuable skill for orchard hands, when setting up new blocks and repairing damaged end assemblies. Clare will be chasing up the work that was delivered before the harvest regarding personal well-being and Warren will be asking for the tractor assessments.

Year 2 trainees. Botany is an academic subject but the knowledge gained is invaluable in understanding a range of fruit production processes. For instance understanding flowers which is important in good pollination to avoid misshapen fruit. Lisa who is the tutor, has vast experience in making this subject interesting and relevant. The harvest criteria fruit quality assignment that was due on the 30th of April, is now due at the tutorial on the 13th May. This will allow students to work on the assignment at the tutorial on the 29th of April.

Clare has an exciting day planned for the Year 3 trainees on the 30th of April, with a range of guest speakers that will enhance their knowledge of market requirements. I can report that all the trainees have now handed in the first part of this assignment. It took some chasing but well done. Brian will also be requiring some of the Human Resource Management assessment in May.

I am getting quite a few enquiries about the Fruit Production Diploma, the 2021 delivery of which started in January. It is too late for that course but we can still take new enrolments for the remaining three courses delivered this year. The first day for these is on the 6th of May. Please contact me if you wish to join this programme.

As always if you have any queries or concerns please get in touch with EIT Tutor Gordon Reid  greid@eit.ac.nz , 06 8301851 or 0273940410.

Harvest time is in full swing with warm fine weather making it a great start to the season.

The labour issues that have been talked about pre-season have proved to be true for many employers, with others just keeping their head above water. With the bulk of the crop still to be picked and packed, there are nervous times ahead. The shortage of labour extends beyond just the pickers- the entire supply chain has been affected.  It is a reminder to us all that our industry continually needs to recruit and train new and existing staff.

As our industry continues to expand with new orchard developments, our focus needs to be growing and developing our people. Our regions tertiary providers EIT and Primary ITO, offer a range of training options (many of which are free courses or very low in cost) which need to be taken up by grower businesses. People are our greatest assets- time, resources and money needs to be available for them to up-skill for the betterment of the whole industry.

The team at EIT are feeling the collective pain of the lack of workforce to pick the beautiful fruit on your trees. We are hopeful that some of the initiatives such as using students after school to fill roles will alleviate the situation. At least the long rain event that was predicted has not lasted too long and has provided some welcome moisture for the soil.

As the trainees are all busy with the harvest there are no classes until the end of April. However, this is still a busy time as we need to fulfil the requirements of our masters at Te Pukenga and NZQA. The NZQA requirement requires to produce a document called a “consistency review”. This means we need to survey both the graduates of a nominated programme as well as the employers. Ostensibly the reason is to ensure that our graduates can do what the programme aim says they should be able to do. Last year it was the turn of the Level 3 Fruit Production programme this year it is the Level 4 Certificate as well as the Level 5 Diploma. This means that Gordon will be surveying as many graduates and employers of the graduates of these two programmes by the middle of April. These deadlines are set by NZQA who have little appreciation of the busy times on orchard. So I am going to pester some of you. Sorry about that, but the surveys are very quick so should not be too onerous.

The Year 1 trainee delivery started back in January but we know that often potential talent is spotted during the harvest so we have built in catch up sessions for late starters on the 12th 13th and 14th of May. In other words it is not too late to enroll a new trainee.

 Year 2 trainees have several assignments on the go. They have been sent a text to remind them to start collecting information for the harvest/fruit quality assignment which is due in at the end of April. Hopefully they will be asking you for information about the harvest!

 Year 3 trainees should also be working on their assignment ‘Complying with market needs’ and should have made a start on the Human Resources assignment. There should be plenty of issues they can solve in this high pressure time.

As always if you have any queries or concerns please get in touch. For further information, please contact EIT Tutor Gordon Reid on greid@eit.ac.nz or 06 8301851.

As we head into harvest, labour is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Hawke’s Bay is receiving 85% of the 2,000 RSE’s coming into New Zealand, but this number also reflects a 7,000 deficit from what the industry would usually require for harvest. Apple harvest is going to be very tight, so I encourage our growers to keep an eye out for your neighbors and be willing to share staff with each other if possible.

The training year started in early January and the first part has concluded with the onset of harvest. At EIT we hope that the weather during harvest is benign and that a shortage of labour does not impact too much!

Congratulations to all the scholarship winners who were recognised for their efforts at the HBFA Industry Awards Night. In all there were 17 scholarship winners and a total of 20 EIT graduates.

Year 1 trainees have now completed a good number of courses. Health and Well-being, Health and Safety, Tractors and First Aid. This quite a list in such a short time and they are to be congratulated on completing, leading up to the very busy time of year. Because we know that potential trainees are often identified over harvest, we have built in some catch-up days in May for those who start late. So please get in touch with Gordon before the 30th of April if you would like to start a new trainee.

Year 2 trainees will complete five separate 15 credit courses during the year. They now have four of the five assessment books. Their first assessment is weeds. We have given them plenty of time to complete this as they need to collect and identify weeds at different stages of growth. The second assessment (but the first one due in) is the fruit quality assessment which is a collection of evidence to do with harvest parameters and documentation. I have asked that this first assessment is due in on the 30th of April. So, they need to be collecting evidence during the harvest.

Additionally, Gordon has given trainees two other assessment books, the “Introduction to the Growing Environment” and the “Block Development and Maintenance” book. The reason for giving these early was so that they can collect appropriate weather forecast charts and take note of irrigation scheduling events to use as evidence. These will be used later in the year.

 Year 3 Trainees also have two assessments to start. Firstly the “Human Resources” assignment and the “Complying with Market Needs”. Last year we were overly flexible with dues dates for this work as a result of the lockdown. Some people took advantage of this flexibility. As long as there are no further lockdowns we just cannot be that lenient.

Congratulations to Jareth Russell who is employed by T&G Global as the top Level 4 trainee. Jareth completed all his six courses with straight A grades. Well done.

Fruit Production Diploma. Classes have started this year under the guidance of our finance guru Brian McLay. Again, these students have an assignment that they can be working on before the next class in May.

At last week’s awards evening the first graduates of this programme were recognised. Steven Hartley deserves special recognition for his outstanding work, receiving A grades in all eight courses offered. A highlight, was his research project which looked at the effect of row orientation on sun light interception. This was a very well-conceived and executed project which adds to the industries body of knowledge. Well done Steven.

As always if you have any queries or concerns please get in touch. For further information, please contact EIT Tutor Gordon Reid on greid@eit.ac.nz or 06 830185.