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Changes to Soil and Water and Climate

There have been a few field walks, meetings and presentations in the past month, which have not directly targeted stonefruit growers and are general enough to be worthy of comment.

Summerfruit is not the easiest of crops to grow. There is some susceptibility to wet feet and silt covering, adequate levels of winter chill could be getting closer to the necessary thresholds, and sufficient water to irrigate crops is being challenged.

Making good, longer-term decisions will affect the next generation’s ability to grow fruit and vegetables. It may well have an impact on the present generation’s ability to make a profit. The past season is a fantastic illustration. While there was adequate chill and a relatively benign growing season, balance sheets have still been challenged.

James Palmer, the relatively new Secretary for the Environment, presented to the local Future Farming Trust. He strongly suggests that climate driven change has arrived, and that technology driven fixes are already too late. Storms such as Cyclone Gabrielle will be more intense and are likely to be more frequent. Bola was in 1988 with the big one before that in 1938. There is good information coming from the Future Farming Trust. While this information is often from other crops and animal farming, we are all living and growing in the same environment.

Will there be sufficient chilling soon? It’s good enough at the moment and could be made to work with the aid of dormancy breakers/enhancers. But do we encourage the importing of more low chill varieties and start getting some experience of growing them commercially?

Plant & Food Research held a hosted a field day this week highlighting some work that they are doing in the recovery from silt space. They were looking at what crops work in silted ground in relation to seed size. Bigger seemed better, but what struck everyone was that the sites from where silt was removed performed worse than the areas that were left alone. For tree crops, would replanting with higher graft unions in flooding susceptible areas be worth considering? Particularly as it is cheaper to leave the silt where it is, if possible.

The all-of-horticulture plus agriculture meeting in Havelock North, hosted by HortNZ, shared information from HBRC staff, Regional Councilors and HortNZ’s response to date. There was a good and robust exchange between growers and HBRC staff highlighting the complexity of what is trying to be achieved. Again, a good understanding of this issue will influence what is planted in the future. The variation in individual circumstances is staggering.

What some of the answers might be is not my place to guess at. I can imagine dams on individual orchards as is seen in Central Otago, and irrigating low chill peaches via solar power generated from the shed roof that also powers the electric tractor. But as I said, these are only my guesses.

Richard Mills
Summerfruit Technical Advisor
021 632559

Kia ora koutou,

It is hard to believe that one year has passed since the devastating cyclone Gabrielle hit our region. This past week saw many Commemorations take place, official gatherings and community’s all coming together to remember what happened on Feb 14th, 2023.

We remember those who lost their lives, we remember those who lost their homes and orchards especially those who can no longer build back on their land or where it has become impossible to ever grow back on their land. We remember the many orchardists and growers who combined lost thousands of hectares of trees not to mention the hundreds of thousands of tons of fruit and vegetables. As I look around the region, I’m encouraged to see how much work has been done to remediate broken orchards, where at one stage it looked a near impossibility for these orchards to ever be reinstated. I’m extremely proud of the way our growers have stood up and got on with the job at hand. This came at a great cost to our us, yes there have been government funds that have helped contribute to clearing some of the mountains of silt, which we are all grateful for, but the cost to clear trees, fix broken posts and wires, repair or replaced irrigation systems, flush wells, plant new trees, grass down and fixed ruined orchard tracks has been no easy task.

Some growers still have many years left as they wait for new trees to replant where their orchards were completely wiped out. The orchards that are up and running are looking good, trees for the most part have bounced back and are holding decent crops. We need everything to go our way now, a good dry “weather” harvest, a packing season with higher-than-average packouts and strong robust marketing and sales programmes focused on getting the best returns possible for our growers. But I believe we are on the way to “Growing back Bigger, Better and Stronger”

In early February HBFA held out annual industry awards night at Toi Toi. We had a record 250 in attendance who came along to support this event. Here is a short brief of the night. A big thankyou to Bex Tacan and her team for helping make this event such a success.

Our Emerging Achiever award went to a well-deserved Hannah Greaves – Fruit Fed supplies.

Our Fourneau award for innovation was awarded to Croptide for the sensor, designed for plants such as kiwifruit, and apple trees, which reads the hydration status directly from the plant’s stem.

Receiving certificates for completing their studies in 2023

· 4 x L5 diploma graduates for fruit production

· 5 x L5 diploma graduates for post-harvest.

· 23 x L4 graduates for Fruit production

· 1 x L4 graduate for post-harvest.

HBFA awarded a record number of scholarships this year.

· 7 x HORTNZ scholarships.

· 35 x HBFACT scholarships.

· 2 x HBFACT degree scholarships.

I want to commend all the students for continuing to commit to their studies through what was a very difficult year. A special mention to all the EIT and ITO tutors and the on-job trainers who helped these young people achieve their qualifications – the industry needs you and we value all the work you do.

I want to officially welcome Callum Ross our new chief executive who started with us at the end of January. He is extremely excited to be part of HBFA and has a real desire to make a difference in whatever way he can. You will be seeing and hearing from him as he gets around and makes himself known.

Our next event is our HB Young Fruit Grower – to be held on the 6th and 7th of June – you will be hearing more on this very soon.

HBFA has been around since 1899 so 2024 will see HBFA’s 125th anniversary – Our team will be looking at how we can celebrate this later in the year so watch this space.

HBFA are believing for 2024 to be a great and prosperous year for all our growers, All the best for your harvest.

Kia Kaha,

Brydon Nisbet
HBFA President 

Please find the following links to resources that have been developed by HortNZ:

HortNZ Grower meeting pres. A & R.15 Feb 2024

 

HBRC presentation. HP water permits Feb 24

 

A&R info sheet. 15 Feb 2024. branded

Advertorial – 

In the dynamic and competitive business of fruit tree nurseries, the journey to becoming a world-leading grower demands more than raising quality trees. It requires a strategic approach, comprehensive knowledge and a dedicated team of specialised employees.

The recent additions to Genesis Nurseries team, Dean Smith, Dave Greer and Jamie Hall, who join existing CEO Hayden Green, bring a wealth of experience and a shared vision of supporting growers in their journey to becoming world-leading.

With the expansion of the management team, Hayden believes Genesis is well-equipped to contribute to orchard success. “We want to be more than just a nursery, we want to be a dynamic force that stays ahead of industry trends. A team that constantly explores new technologies, sustainable practices and cutting-edge horticultural methods. By embracing innovation, we not only enhance the quality of our trees but strengthen our links with IP owners and breeders, providing our growers with the knowledge to stay at the forefront of the fruit production industry”.

Taking on the role of Business Development and IP Manager is seasoned specialist, Dean Smith. Previously leading Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association, Dean understands the importance of collaboration and communication in achieving successful and sustainable commercial outcomes.

“During my time advocating for growers, I gained a deep appreciation for the challenges they face, from accessing capital to navigating workforce constraints, regulatory hurdles, market fluctuations and extreme weather events” shares Dean.

“I’m also very aware of the long planning horizons and the significant investment with planting, and plan to bring this grower perspective to support our service delivery.”

Similarly, Dave Greer, the newly appointed General Manager Operations brings a multifaceted skill set to Genesis, combining his expertise in pest disease and risk management planning, (acquired through global experience in vineyards), 9 years of irrigation engineering with his experience in managing labour supply, assisting the Hortus management team to establish the company in the North Island.

While growing top-quality trees is paramount for Dave “building a great culture and team that can develop up the ranks” will be a strong priority.

Completing the team as Safety, People and Capability Manager is Jamie Hall. With his strong roots in the field and understanding of the regional dynamics, Jamie is equipped to be a crucial player within the Genesis team.

His ability to assess the team’s current skills and identify gaps will mean “staff will not only remain safe at work but will allow me to provide further training and skilled labour when required. Overall, I want to ensure all labour is working towards producing the best product for our growers”, says Jamie.

As the 2024 season ramps up, the strategic additions to the Genesis Nursery team will strengthen their commitment to staying ahead of industry trends and supporting growers on their journey to becoming world-leading.

 

 

NZAPI will be engaging with growers around the country in March as part of the consultative process for the renewal of the Commodity Levies (Apples and Pears) Order.

Every six years, NZAPI is required to renew their legal status as the levy collector for apples and pears in New Zealand. It was last renewed in 2018 and is therefore due for renewal in 2024. The commodity levy order sets the role of NZAPI and the maximum levy amount. All growers are required to pay the levy, which is primarily used by NZAPI to fund the support and services it provides as the industry body.

While the Commodity Levy Order is a piece of very important legislation for the industry, more importantly it is what brings us together as an industry, formalising how we work together, and how we provide services and support to growers. Because of this, it is critical that growers are part of the renewal process.

Meetings with growers will be held in early March to engage and consult on the Levy Order. Acknowledging this is a busy time of year for growers, NZAPI are combining their levy order consultation meetings with an update on the recent strategic review, and an online meeting will also be held.

GISBORNE: Monday 11 March, 5-6pm, Bushmere Arms.

HAWKE’S BAY: Tuesday 12 March, 5-6.30pm, No. 5 Café & Larder, Hastings

HAWKE’S BAY: Wednesday 13 March, 5-6.30pm, Havelock North Function Centre

NELSON: Monday 18 March, 5-6pm, Moutere Hills Community Centre, Upper Moutere

NELSON: Tuesday 19 March, 5-6pm, Headingly Centre, 2 Headingly Lane, Richmond

CENTRAL OTAGO: Wednesday 20 March, 5-6pm, 103 The Store, Roxburgh

TIMARU: Thursday 21 March, 5-6pm, Grosvenor Hotel, 26 Cains Terrace, Timaru REGISTER HERE to attend any of the grower meetings.

More information on the Commodity Levy Order is available on the NZAPI website.

Kia ora koutou,

The Industry Awards Night was a fantastic celebration of students achievements, and we were proud to see EIT students at all levels gain scholarships, and graduate, as well as see their managers be acknowledged on stage.  Our thanks to the HBFA management team for organising such a professional, enjoyable  night for our students.

Our Taradale campus is slowly getting repaired with several buildings, including R block, back in commission.  It will be a while before the library and study areas are available for students, which is unfortunate.

All three years of the Hort trainee program have started, with the first years completing tractors, second years starting weeds and weather and third years, studying Level 4 horticulture, starting with compliance.  We have good numbers for all courses, but will open up years one and two after harvest for a late intake, as per previous years.  It was great to get industry support to push through discounted fees for 2024, and for employers to still receive the Apprenticeship Boost funding for this year.  If you have any questions, please contact Clare or Steven.

The first class in the Fruit Production Diploma is a research project, which enables the students to fully consider all aspects of trial work in the orchard. They have already locked in their ideas for their trial and are working on their aims, background of theory and methodology. We have ideas ranging from the effect of summer pruning/reflective cloth on harvest parameters/size, as well as light interception.

The students goals are to produce a final report with a research poster and to present their project to their fellow students and some industry representatives. It will be a challenge; but it will expand their confidence and understanding. We can’t wait to see the end result and the presentations in August.

The Level 5 fruit production 2024 program has started, however we welcome students at any time during the year, so there is still time to complete courses this year.  Post Harvest Level 5 will start in July, anyone interested please contact Chris cthorman@eit.ac.nz

Noho ora mai,
Clare, Chris and Steven

 

As we are all aware harvest is the last time growers get to really maximise the results for the year.

The fruit on the trees is what it is, but harvest management still provides opportunities to chase fruit value, and different harvest decisions that can make or lose money.

A key perspective to have during harvest is looking at each variety and block on its own merits and challenges, alongside understanding the bigger picture of the entire orchard.

The range in fruit value for most individual varieties is significant, and in many apple varieties it can be over $20 per carton range in export fruit returns from least preferred to most preferred. This value difference is driven from the fruit availability for market access, preferred fruit size for markets, fruit colour or harvest maturity specifications, however not all of these are as financially important in every variety or even every marketer.

Growers need to know the harvest parameters that really matter to your bottom line in your orchard blocks.

Should you look to delay harvest and take an increase in fruit size and potential red coloration?

Or is early fruit with fantastic storage and eating specifications the key to get the best out of the block?

What is the correct number of picks in your block to optimize results?

Does the block justify specific field grading to remove pests or disease that could be a market access issue? Or should you just tidy up quality issues to decrease post harest costs?

Does your harvest plan show peak demand where getting bogged down could be an issue?

Focus on where you have the greatest ability to maximise your profitability. Some variety block warrant extra effort and potential cost, some do not.

Once you have the block harvest specifics you need to ensure your harvest quality teams are focused in these specific areas (field grading, fruit size, colour, maturity). To do it, you must set up specific, clear and deliverable rules to the pickers that allow them to carry out their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Harvest is the busiest time on an orchard, with ongoing decision making needing to be done on a daily basis. Be sure to keep focused on looking for opportunities to maximise results for this harvest. Identify and record what has worked well, as well as identifying what could be done better for your blocks in the future. Good management brings good luck.

Jonathan Brookes

Agfirst Consultants (HB) Ltd

 

Technology is developing at a rapid rate, especially in our horticultural industry. Over the last year I have been researching, testing and developing tools that will help growers farm with precision in an affordable way.

You would’ve seen a number of maps like these below, whether it be blossom density, canopy density, tree height or fruit number, all of which give you data at a tree level allowing you to get accurate representation of a block. Different growers have different appetite for the level of granularity they will manage to. Some like to identify the problem areas, some use the data to representatively position scouting trees and some use variable rate sprayer technology to apply chemical thinners and/or PGR’s to only the trees that need it.

Below is a 7th leaf vigorous block of Envy(TM), one that is ready for its first year of growth suppressant. However, not every tree needs it. With ground truthing using geolocated maps you can identify at what level to turn the sprayer off, download the prescription map like the one below, plug it into the sprayer and you’re away. Using the example below, you’d be reducing your chemical output by 30% and reducing the variability within the block.

Growers also use these maps to quantify the proportion of each vigour category across a block to calculate a better yield estimate, direct fruit counters, leaf samplers and consultant visits.

With data comes opportunity and often the opportunity to farm more accurately. It’s a question of how you use the data to fit with your business and your processes. We are coming into the vigour mapping season so if you’re wanting to start in the precision line of management, give me a call.

Jack Wilson

Agfirst Consultants (HB) Ltd

 

Kia ora koutou,

Christmas is upon us, the sun is shining, and there are some hot days ahead. Everything appears to be lined up for a good harvest, albeit I am aware that there are areas of blackspot appearing in some blocks – it was a difficult spring, with long wet periods occurring on a regular basis throughout our important spraying period. Attention is now necessary to prevent secondary infection from worsening problems. As we all know, blackspot can be a market access issue that prevents fruit from accessing certain key markets.

I must say I’ll be pleased to see the back of 2023 for obvious reasons. I won’t dwell on the events of 14th February – enough has been said already (not of course minimising for one minute the grief this caused many of our growers).

So, here’s a quick re-cap of 2023.

HBFA pushed through with some key events which brought a real sense of unity within the industry. Just days before the cyclone, we held our Industry Awards Night with many of our young and up-coming growers receiving scholarships and certificates for completing their study at EIT or ITO. In addition, Kurt Livingston was presented with HBFA’s Emerging Achiever Award with David Styles from Hawk Technology receiving the Foureau award for innovation. Please note that this year’s Industry Awards Night will be held on Thursday Feb 1st and everyone is welcome to attend and support this free event.

We decided to move our Young Fruit Grower competition to August to give us all time to breathe after the cyclone. It proved to be another outstanding event with Jan Buter from T&G taking the honours ahead of Danielle Sammons from Jonny Appleseed who was a very worthy runner up. The awards dinner also included Graham Hope formerly from Crasborne’s (now Kiwi Crunch) being awarded the Joe Bell trophy for services to the fruit growing industry.

Our annual fishing comp was help last month with a record turnout of anglers and huge support from our loyal sponsors who provided an impressive array of prizes. The fishing was also fantastic – a great way for growers to come together.

I’m very proud of how the HBFA executive committee and management came together to support the needs of our industry this past year. In the days following Cyclone Gabrielle we set up a Cyclone Relief fund that subsequently raised over $350K to support impacted growers. These funds have been used to support a range of initiatives including; wellbeing support, the provision of technical and financial advice and a range of grants to support with cyclone related costs. I’d like to thank all of those who contributed to this fund – the list of those involved is far too long to mention them all.

This year has also seen us build strong partnerships across our sector and with wider stakeholders like central and local authorities. HBFA played a key role in establishing the Hawke’s Bay Horticulture Advisory Group (HBHAG) which has advocated strongly around a number of issues. With the support of HBHAG, we were successful in receiving $600K of funding from MPI which has been used to resource additional extension services and fund business advisory services to a large cohort of impacted growers.

I would like to thank all our members and remind you that we are always here and available to be contacted for any reason – please reach out. A big shout out also to our many sponsors who contribute so much to us, we really couldn’t do what we do without you help and support – Thank You.

Thanks also to the team at New Zealand Apples & Pears for being so supportive of HBFA. Over the last few years, we’ve developed an excellent working relationship with them. We have our office at their headquarters on Eastbourne Street, and their staff are always extremely accommodating and professional.

I must also acknowledge and thank the wider HBFA team including our contractors and suppliers, for the hard work, commitment and support they provide the fruit growing industry in HB.
Finally, from me – have a good break (away of possible), enjoy Christmas time with family and friends and stay safe. As we come to the end of 2023 and start a new year, I want to encourage you with some words that have always helped me when I’ve been through tough times.

“Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things ahead. Our best days are yet to come”.

Ngā mihi

Brydon Nisbet
HBFA President 

On behalf of the HBFA executive committee, I am are thrilled to announce the appointment of our new CEO, Callum Ross, who brings a wealth of experience with 18 years in horticulture, healthcare, and hi-tech industries.

Callum’s dedication to our region and his expertise in sustainable business practices have been pivotal in enhancing the growth and success of various prominent New Zealand and community organizations. His unique perspective, deep understanding of horticultural challenges and a passion for supporting business will ideally position him to lead HBFA into its 125 year and beyond.

Callum joins the association after more than seven years with Rockit Global Limited, where he has played a crucial role in shaping the company’s narrative. Within this tenure, he has made substantial contributions across numerous aspects of the business – particularly in new product development, and the establishment of robust governance strategies.

His versatility and breadth of expertise in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors has been demonstrated through the strong impact he has had in roles at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and in several board positions, including as a Board member at Environment Centre Te Matau-a-Māui.

A proud alumnus of Napier Boys’ High School and a native of Patoka, Callum hails from a farming family which embedded his strong work ethic and integrity.

We look forward to Callum leading our business and are confident that his skills and dedication will continue to propel our industry forward.

Welcome to the team Callum!

Yours sincerely,

Brydon Nisbet – HBFA President