I hope this report finds you all well and looking forward to Christmas, which is a time (at least for a day), when we can forget about what’s happening in our growing world, relax and enjoy the company of our loved family and friends.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t yet even turned on my irrigation this season – the rain just keeps coming. Warm, humid, and wet conditions usually mean a good size year but also a year where we will need to keep an eye on the potential for rots to occur and if there is blackspot in your trees a robust spray programme will be needed.
I’m aware our fruit returns for different varieties are all over the place this year with many still waiting for their finals to come in. Many growers are feeling the pinch of lower-than-expected returns and I’m even hearing of clawbacks on some varieties which isn’t nice.
I would like to encourage any growers who are struggling at this time to please reach out to your friends, other growers and neighbours and try not to let things get on top of you. We here at HBFA are also available, even if it’s just for a chat – remember, we are here to help.
Well, what a year we have had – here’s a quick recap.
2022 Harvest time was one of the most challenging seasons we have walked though – omicron outbreak, wettest season in decades which has ultimately affected the quality of our produce in market.
In May we had an amazing HB Young Fruitgrower of the year competition – with Maatu Akonga winning our section and going onto compete in the national grower of the year competition in Nelson. The event also afforded me the privilege of awarding Leon Stallard the Joe Bell trophy for his outstanding service to the industry.
In June we held our annual Industry Awards Evening. Congratulations to all the graduates – you are the future leaders of our industry! Well done also to Emma Sherwood, the inaugural recipient of the HBFA Emerging Achiever Award and Brendan Hamilton from H2ortigator who was awarded the Fourneau Trophy for innovation.
October saw the sad passing of Lawrie Cooke. Lawrie was a life member of HBFA and made a huge contribution to our industry – he will be sorely missed.
Our annual fishing comp was held in November. This (as usual) was a well-attended event with a packed shelf of prizes for our winners. Thanks again to our wonderful sponsors.
November also saw Regan Judd from T&G named 2022 National Young Horticulturist of the Year – the first time since Dean Astill in 2005 that a HB contestant has gone on to win the national title.
Midway through the year we welcomed Dean Smith to HBFA into the role of Business and Grower Engagement Manager. Dean is bringing a new level of professionalism to our organisation and is expanding our presence and influence.
Under Dean’s management we have established an Industry Resilience Project courtesy of funding from MPI, NZAPI, NZKGI and the NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust. This project has already yielded the Pick the Bay employment expo and a suicide awareness workshop that was delivered in partnership with local program Mate4Life. Our Industry Resilience Project will be further ramped up in the New Year as we endeavour to offer additional support to the industry.
I recently picked up the book “100 Harvests” which was written by Rose Mannering to celebrate HBFA’s centenary in 1999. While thumbing through this book, I reflected on some of the immense challenges our industry has previously navigated, I found former HBFA president J. H Milne’s account of the 1936 season particularly poignant when he wrote “This year major calamities, including a destructive gale, a frost, and low export prices seem to be more than we can bear”.
For additional context, the pre-season export forecast for 1936 was for 200,000 cases – the quantity exported was 9,035 (less than 5%). The point is that our industry is resilient, we have overcome challenges before and by pulling together, we will overcome them again.
Finally, I would like to thank all our members, contractors, tenants, and newsletter contributors for their continued support of the association, and our executive committee who generously give up their time to serve our industry. A special note of thanks also to Graeme Hodges who recently stood down from the committee after many valued years of service.
As president it’s been a privilege serving HBFA and the industry this last year. I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas and New Year.
Take care and kia kaha