Summerfruit NZ, April Update

Posted By HBFA | April 15, 2021

Richard Mills, Summerfruit NZ Market Support

Summerfruit NZ has appointed a new CEO, Kate Hellstrom. Kate is based in Wellington and is looking forward to visiting the regions to meet and greet Summerfruit growers.

Alongside Kate’s appointment, a new chair for the Summerfruit NZ Board will be ratified at the time of the AGM in June.  As a result of the industry review there is subtle but continuing change inside the organization. Whilst there seems to be a number of changes in our sector, change is good for on-going development and growth of the industry.

Changes are also occurring in orchard ownership here in Hawke’s Bay and in Central Otago. These changes seem to be driven by farm gate prices, weather and an older grower demographic profile. Should you sell or buy an orchard, or have a change in lease arrangements, please let us know and we will amend our records accordingly.

Pruning is underway, where it’s not conflicting with apple harvest! It’s good practice to make, at least the big cuts, during the dry warmer period and if necessary, do the detail later in the season. That said dry is the order of the day, and as I’ve suggested previously the trees would love a good drink. Summerfruit NZ’s Research Manager has suggested the trees need 100mm over three days to give the roots at the deeper layer a good drink. Metservice is suggesting warmer and drier than normal for this period, with westerly winds. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, if you have irrigation it would seem like a good time to turn it on again.

I was recently in Wellington participating in a seminar on Regenerative Agriculture. Although I took down a healthy degree of scepticism, in part fuelled by grower comments, I came away feeling this is something that our industry needs to keep an eye on and indeed participate in. The Apple Futures, KiwiGreen and SummerGreen systems appear to have helped our product groups to at least be on the continuum of improvement if not a fair way along it. It’s not something to be wary of, more something to benefit from.

The seminar discussed the need for change to be driven by growers and groups of growers identifying issues and actioning changes, rather than local or central government driving the change. With this thinking, there should be an opportunity for the ag. and hort. industry to work together in an area, or at catchment levels, much in the manner of the Twyford Water Users Group. This bottom-up approach would seem to be at odds with what Greenpeace is demanding for Regen.Ag.

I will keep an eye on this space and see what transpires!

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