SUMMERFRUIT J U LY 2 0 17
ISSU E 33
The Magazine of Summerfruit New Zealand
+ Conference 2017
Quality, Expertise, Innovation McGrath Nurseries Limited is proudly celebrating 38 years of being part of the New Zealand summerfruit industry. We are passionate about growing excellent trees and leading positive change.
Our variety successes include:
We show our commitment to the industry through: • Excellent quality trees • Importing, testing and developing new varieties • Intellectual Property Management • Support of industry research • Individual advice to growers and technology transfer
ON THE COVER
Photos from the Summerfruit NZ conference held in the Bay of Plenty in June.
From the chairman
Market access update
News & events
From the chief executive
Roger Brownlie, Gary Bignell and Earnscy Weaver
Meet the team
Regional round up
Summerfruit is the official magazine of Summerfruit New Zealand and is published three times a year. Published by Summerfruit New Zealand ISSN 1178-2897 Contact details PO Box 25255 Wellington 6146 Phone: 04 830 0935 www.summerfruitnz.co.nz Advertising sales Julianne Orr Phone: 021 0299 1533 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Design by Blue Storm Design Printed by Garratt Print
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
MESSAGES TO TAKE HOME I write this report as the conference in the Bay of Plenty has just finished and the regional research meetings are underway. Taking our conference to a non-growing region was a risk for Summerfruit NZ, but we were incredibly pleased to see so many people attending to catch up with other growers and all parts of the industry. Thanks must go to our new platinum sponsor MG Marketing for the effort they went to in helping us deliver another successful conference. We look forward to our relationship with MG Marketing continuing over many years to come. My thanks also to Marie and her team at Summerfruit NZ for their efforts in once again delivering what is really recognised as one of the best annual horticulture industry conferences. The months leading up to conference are hectic for the whole team, but their efforts have been successful once again.
Although we were in a non-summerfruit growing region there were plenty of take-home messages for all that attended. Those who were there will remember the take-home messages delivered by
Gordon Tietjens for a long time. His mantra – TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More is a message we can use not only in our own businesses also as an industry. I hope as many of you as possible have attended the Hawkes Bay and Otago research presentations. The work that our research partner, Plant & Food Research undertakes on our behalf, helps all our growers in their efforts to grow the best summerfruit possible. The Future Orchard Planting Systems project in Otago continues to show promise and we are watching closely as they move into the cropping phase to see exactly where they can take us to in terms of yield per hectare. Resistance management was also a key topic on the day and I think it is a subject that we will need to keep in the front of our minds more, as further resistance is discovered and it becomes harder and harder to register new chemicals in our small market. Cultural control may well be the way of the future. I attended the 10 year celebrations of the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme recently in Blenheim. The scheme is important to our industry as it provides experienced labour for key periods throughout the growing season. The benefits, we as growers experience, are matched by those the men and their communities see back home in the islands, and many strong relationships have formed between growers and villages in the Pacific. Of course, Kiwis first is still one of the key principles – employing New Zealanders and being involved with programmes that focus on New Zealand workers both for seasonal and permanent employment is vital. Also key to maintaining access to the scheme is adherence to high employment standards and pastoral care programmes of a high quality. Hopefully you are all wintering well… I look forward to catching up with as many of our Hawkes Bay growers as possible when the Board meets in Napier in early August and where we have a grower update session planned. More to come on that in Prunings.
You may have wondered who the new face was helping out at the Summerfruit NZ table during conference? Our newest team member Carolena reveals a bit more about herself in this issue’s ‘Meet the team’ feature.
Marlborough orchardist Gary Bignell is a first-time contributor to Summerfruit magazine. From his informative regional round up it sounds like he’s recently enjoyed a bit of travel locally and further afield.
Pests and their impact on summerfruit growers’ ability to export are of deep concern to Stephen. In his regular market access update, he takes a look at two new resources that we’ve developed to help packhouse operators in the coming season.
Introducing bees to help pollinate crops is a commonly used tool in the orchardist’s toolbox. Now is a good time for Biobees’ Mike Sim to remind us on how to get the best out of our beehives in time for spring.
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TURNER BROTHERS MADE LIFE MEMBERS
June was a busy month for the Summerfruit NZ team as the week after conference they moved out of their
A change to the Summerfruit NZ constitution was required to make Jeffery and Peter Turner life members of the incorporated society. Fortunately, the resolution to allow two life memberships to be awarded in one year was passed unopposed at the AGM before the honour was bestowed at the conference dinner. An interview with the Turner gentlemen will be published in the November issue of Summerfruit.
home in Co-operative Bank House to a new space just a little further down the road or Featherston Street to be precise. Along with a new office comes new contact details: Location: Level 7 166 Featherston Street Wellington 6011
NEWS & EVENTS
Postal address: PO Box 25255 Wellington 6146 Telephone: 04 830 0935
2017 ANNUAL REPORT OUT NOW The Summerfruit NZ Annual Report for 2017 was released at the AGM at conference and covers the year ended 31 August 2016. As well as the audited financial statements, the report also includes messages from the chairman and chief executive on the past year and considers what the future may hold.
Young Grower of the Year Christchurch, 16-17 August 2017 Summerfruit NZ For the year ended 31 August 2016
Asia Fruit Logistica Hong Kong, China, 6-8 September 2017 IV Asia Symposium on Quality Management in Postharvest Systems Jeonju, Korea, 12-14 September 2017
If you wish to read the report online it can be found under Publications on the Summerfruit NZ website homepage. We are not sending copies out to those who did not attend conference, but if you would like to be sent a hard copy of the report, please call us on 04 830 0935 or email email@example.com
THRIVE CONFERENCE 2017 â€“ BY THE NUMBERS This year 207 people registered. There were over 20 different speakers over 2 days.
VI International Conference on Postharvest Unlimited Madrid, Spain, 18-20 October 2017 China Fruit & Vegetable Fair Beijing, China, 3-5 November 2017
NEW REPORTS PUBLISHED Summerfruit NZ Crop Surveys 2011-16 and Repeat purchasing and fruit quality 2017 were launched at conference and have been sent to all members who did not attend conference.
We had 39 fantastic sponsors on board. Conference took place at 9 venues in the Bay of Plenty.
Repeat purchasing and fruit quality 2017
Summerfruit NZ Crop Surveys
Our dinner was attended by 149 people. A3
FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE
RECOGNISING THOSE IN OUR INDUSTRY We were pleased to recognise a number of people at this year’s conference: Jeff & Peter Turner (life members), Wayne McIntosh (Mack Nicol Cup) and Trisha Aitken (services to industry). All people who have contributed hugely to the industry in their own way. Some over many years, others for shorter intense periods. We did have to make a quick change to our constitution to recognise the Turner brothers of Fresh Direct. The constitution only allowed one life member per year but we simply couldn’t choose between them, so we put a resolution to change the constitution to allow two life members to the AGM, which was fortunately passed. The Turner brothers typically did not think they deserved the award and passed the recognition on to everyone else they worked with. But I think we got it right. Both are very humble men who have dedicated much of their lives to this industry.
We all know why Trish Aitken was recognised for her contribution to the industry. Her drive and passion on the NZ market has brought many changes. For her, the Know Your NZ Summerfruit booklet and the development of the wristbands, must surely stand out – not to mention the maturity guides, retail posters and work with marketers and retailers. Happy travels and we’ll miss you Trish. And our thanks to Andy McGrath for supplying the cherry trees that we gave Trisha as a parting gift.
Horticulture NZ In addition to those who were recognised at our conference, I’d also like to note that two of our growers were also recognised at the Horticulture NZ conference. Congratulations to Gary Bennetts, our past chairman and Stephen Darling of Ettrick who were both awarded life membership to Horticulture NZ. The ‘south end’ of the industry in Central Otago collected more than their share of awards that night. Congratulations to you both, it was well earned.
Wayne McIntosh is a deserved winner of the Mack Nicol Cup. Anyone who knows Wayne, knows that he challenges everything, does his research, doesn’t settle for things just because others do it, and has no fear of doing things his own way. He brings that focus to every challenge and this is evident in his orchard. So, we were very pleased to award him the Mack Nicol Cup this year. Gary Bennetts
It is with deep, deep sadness that since being awarded the Mack Nicol Cup, we learnt of Wayne’s death. Wayne approached his illness with the same positive energy and focus that he took on everything in his life. It was encouraging to those around him to see such energy in the face of a difficult prognosis. Life can be awfully unfair at times, and that is definitely the case here. Our thoughts are with his family and his boys. An article on Wayne appears on page 28 of this issue. We ran it past him and he was pleased with the way it told his story, so I recommend the article to you. Wayne McIntosh
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Thanks to our many sponsors Platinum
Balance Cargo BBC Technologies Coveris Fresh Direct Jenkins Freshpac Systems JP Exports Plant & Food Research Purefresh Organic Radfords Software RD8 Fresh Produce Sinclair Summerfruit Exporters Committee T&G Viscount Plastics
45° South Bayer Foodview Freshmax Fruit World Fruitfed Supplies Hellmann Worldwide Logistics KPH Transport LE Cooke Nurseryman Oji Fibre Solutions The AgriChain Centre Yara AsureQuality ATL Haulage Biostart Business Cycles Cathay Pacific Cooltainer Hydralada Kuehne + Nagel Montage Summerland Express Freight Waimea Nurseries
Thanks to all those who contributed to another great conference this year. We took a punt with holding the conference in Mt Maunganui this year and it paid off. Great attendance, great speakers, heaps of networking and lots of support from sponsors and the wider industry. Thanks to those sponsors who support us and make the conference affordable to our attendees. I often don’t attend conferences due the eyewatering registration fees. So please don’t underestimate the contribution sponsors make. And thank you to MG Marketing, our new platinum sponsor. It was great working with you and we look forward to working with you again in the future. IT projects Now conference is well behind us, and like you, we are well into our planning for the next season. July is the time we switch from finishing up last season’s activities and start to plan for the next season. In addition to the usual planning, we are still in the process of redeveloping our IT systems. It’s a process that always takes considerably more time than you allocate. Our website was offline for a couple of months while we switched over to the new dual systems: one the conventional open access website and the other a secure, industry only portal. Both are still being developed, but by now, you should be able to access both of them. Go have a look at the website and let us know if there is anything that we should be reporting on. But before you decide that a whole lot of things are missing, do go over to the secure portal and have a look there. You can log on to the portal from the website, but you will need a user password to get access. These passwords will be sent out to growers where we have your email address. If you don’t get that password or misplace it, just click on forgot password and get a new one. All sorts of information will be loaded in the portal, though in some instances you will only see material that is relevant to you. If all your levy is deducted and submitted by a marketer, then you may not see the levy payment section. If you don’t export, you won’t see the export registration section. However should either of those situations change just contact Anna (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will set you up with a user password. If you are not a grower you may not get access at all, or may only be able to submit levy. This new system will challenge a few of you, but if you are having problems just give one of us a call and we’ll aim to sort it out for you.
Change of scene If you are wanting to contact us, note that we have changed all our details as a result of moving offices. See page 1 or the new website for these details. This has meant new phone numbers for the whole team. You can contact us on the following numbers:
04 830 0935
Carolena Swaneveld 04 830 0930
04 830 0937
04 830 0932
We’ve also changed our PO Box which we’ve shared with the Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust for the last 20 years. Our new address is PO Box 25255, Wellington 6146, so please make a note of this change. Our new offices are lovely – light, bright and spacious. They are also very quiet, whilst only four blocks from our old Hort NZ offices. It is a relief to be able to spread out and have room to move. It also means that we can now employ additional staff that we have been discussing for some months. We have an office for the export/ biosecurity role that we are about to fill. We also have a space for the NZ market person within the office. Trisha was working from home for some months due to the lack of space at our old offices. This will bring about a huge change to us here. From only three staff 18 months ago, we will have six people based in the office.
Export registration: new stuff Export registration will be submitted via our new portal this year – the new process is nearly complete and looking very user friendly. Both growers and packhouses will see new tools available to them this year. We are certainly enjoying the build process although our developers are rather pushed by our expectation that they can deliver every new tool that occurs to us. I’m happy to report that they do usually rise to the occasion. Thank you, Kelly and Tommy, for being so open to our mad ideas. One major change that we are introducing this year relates to the Fruit Fly Official Assurance Programme (OAP) discussed by Stephen Ogden on page 11. This OAP is a bit of forward thinking around the possibility of a fruit fly being found in New Zealand during our export season. It’s a voluntary programme that enables packhouses to add the draft OAP to their systems in readiness for a disruption in trade from a fruit fly find. By having the OAP in their MAO system, packhouses will be able to continue to supply exporters who in turn supply fruit fly sensitive markets. A couple of requirements of the OAP that we’ve tried to cover off in our export registration process are:
1 Packhouses must specifically register for the programme. There will be a check box for packhouses in our system. 2 Packhouses must be able to trace all fruit back to supplying production sites. The new export registration system will have a section where growers can record the GPS coordinates of the front gate of each PIN, which is in turn, linked to valuation numbers. This will provide the level of traceability MPI will require packhouses to have on file for the OAP. The GPS coordinates of growers will be available to packhouses
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who the grower selected during registration. This means the packhouses do not have to acquire and record this information themselves. This is not a mandatory section, however, we recommend that before completing export registration, growers should check with their packhouses as to whether they plan to register for the Fruit Fly OAP this season. Having the OAP in their system will also underpin other future biosecurity finds. I’m of the view that the OAP will give MPI confidence that the industry has suitable systems in place in the event of other biosecurity finds. I suspect that we will see mixed uptake of the Fruit Fly OAP this season, however, it’s our expectation that there will be widespread adoption within two to three years.
Tiered licences Another change that exporters will notice is the introduction of two tier licences. Recent changes in the HEA legislation make it possible for industries to create licences for specific markets. A key part of that review is the option to introduce tiered licences. Summerfruit NZ has always been supportive of this option and is planning to implement the tiered structure as soon as this is confirmed. It is our intention to implement two tiers: Tier 1: All markets, ie essentially the existing licences. Tier 2: Pacific markets only. Companies that don’t need a full licence can apply to HEA for a certificate of exemption. The exemption costs considerably less than a full licence, but is limited to the markets and volumes that can be exported. And it must be applied for every year. Summerfruit NZ supports exemptions for: a) Providores or exporters shipping small volumes (ie less than 1,000kgs). b) New exporters who want to test or develop a market. This sort of exemption is supported for only two years. Then the exporter must apply for a full licence. A number of companies apply every year for the first type of exemption and are primarily focused on the Pacific. Their business is constrained by the exemption structure and they are unable to develop new business. Therefore, we plan to establish a Pacific Licence under the new tiered system. The licence would be limited to the Pacific markets only. They would not be able to export summerfruit to any other market. Nor would they be able to participate in any of the OAPs and programmes managed by Summerfruit NZ (eg OPI), as these programmes are outside of the Pacific. Pacific Licence holders would pay a lower licence fee to the HEA and registration fees to Summerfruit NZ. These fees are yet to be finalised. We expect that three to four of the current exemption holders would qualify for a Pacific Licence and we will encourage them to apply for one. There may also be one or two exporters with full licences that may opt for the Pacific Licence. The tiered system will allow a Product Group to implement up to five tiers of licence. At this stage Summerfruit NZ has no intention to implement any other tiers.
Catching up with growers We plan to hold several grower meetings in Central and the Hawkes Bay during August. First up is a grower forum after our Board meeting in Napier. We will finish up the meeting early and are inviting growers to come have a chat, tell us what’s on your minds and catch up with our activities, oh and of course join us for a drink afterwards. Thank heavens Dry July will be behind us. In Central Otago, we will be meeting with growers to discuss the next steps for Apricot Co. With the demand for new apricots varieties starting to pick up, we’re now in a space where Apricot Co can be fired up and plans put in place for the cooperative to start operating.
only get something from people if you give them back something they want or need. So, our discussions will be looking at: • delivering information that growers want and need • how we can align the survey so we also get that data that is essential for the planning and development that we do. See the Aussies have problems with data too, which makes me feel better.
We’ll be holding the annual export reference group meeting to discuss changes to the MRLs & PHI tables. At that point, we will be loading the tables into the new portal, so keep an eye out for that. And we also plan to meet with growers to get feedback on how to improve our industry survey to get better and more accurate data that suits growers’ needs. The feedback after the last survey indicated that some growers did not see the value in the survey as it was conducted. It’s an interesting situation, every report I read from the USA to the Aussie cherry industry to the NZ Avocado industry, all complain that the lack of data is a serious hindrance to planning for the industry. But from experience I do know that you
Australian Cherry Strategic Investment Plan 2017-21
LET’S WORK TOGETHER
Thanks to all those who contributed to another great conference this year. We took a punt with holding the conference in Mt Maunganui this year and it paid off. Great attendance, great speakers, heaps of networking and lots of support from sponsors and the wider industry. Thanks to those sponsors who support us and make the conference affordable to our attendees. I often don’t attend conferences due the eyewatering registration fees. So please don’t underestimate the contribution sponsors make. And thank you to MG Marketing, our new platinum sponsor. It was great working with you and we look forward to working with you again in the future.
At MG Marketing our relationship with the growers we work with is one of partnership, with the overriding objective being to make your growing enterprise an outstanding and sustainable success, regardless the size of your business. You focus on what you do best – growing quality produce and we MG Marketing provide a proven, constructive, profitable link between our many produce growers, retail and food service clients.
Such a partnership secures you a healthy income and value for your efforts. MG’s highly experienced procurement team maintains close and regular contact with you as a Summerfruit supplier, offering tailored practical advice and support.
They also undertake a multitude of related tasks, to ensure growers benefit from efficiency improvements and market feedback. These may include, for example, on-line receipting systems, general administrative support, business reviews, transport and packaging options and quality control measures. If you would like to know more about any of these areas, please contact our procurement team.
MG Procurement Team
Richard Cameron 021 227 5932 National Cherries
Roger Georgieff 021 229 6398
South Island Summerfruit
Rob Hollier 021 482 568
North Island Summerfruit
By MARIE DAWKINS
If you read nothing else make sure you read this article!
COMMODITY LEVY ORDER AMENDMENT Proposal to realign the Summerfruit Commodity Levy Order definition with industry practice A review of the levy collection process and the wording of the Summerfruit Commodity Levy Order (2014) has identified concerns about whether it is being calculated consistently by all collection agents. In particular, the interpretation of the FOB value is not precise and is open for different interpretations. The definition of FOB value in the Order is:
- consult with growers, which we plan to do in the coming weeks - conduct a referendum - submit an application to the Minister to amend the Levy Order. After discussions with MPI and our lawyer, we think that the best way to amend the Order is to: - remove all reference to FOB value from the Levy Order - replace references to FOB value with selling price* and amend the definition to specify any deductions that may be made prior to the selling price being determined. While this may result in change for some collection agents, it will clear up the inconsistency. *Selling price = grower return
The referendum The levy referendum will be specifically on this issue, ie on: - removing FOB, and - changing the definition of selling price.
FOB value means the value of the summerfruit specified in the declaration in, attached to, or forming part of, the customs entry (ie before the deduction of any costs or charges).
This amendment needs to be in place before the next season or exporters will be required to deduct levy as currently specified in the Order, ie the value declared on the customs declaration, before the deduction of costs.
It is our understanding that the majority of exporters however, deduct the levy based on the grower return, ie after costs and any losses have been accounted for. We’re pretty sure that growers believe that this is how their levy should be deducted.
The wheels of government grind slowly, especially when there is an election happening, so the amendment vote needs to happen by late August.
However, it is MPI’s view that this practice differs from the definition of FOB in the Summerfruit Commodity Levy Order (2014). They inform us that ‘grower return’ is an incorrect interpretation of FOB and should not be used. The situation has come about because of a few small tweaks to the 2002 and 2008 Levy Orders. The changes were minor at the time and the implications didn’t register. It is not because anyone is trying to fiddle the levy.
The problem and the solution By deducting the levy using this definition of FOB, it means that export growers would be paying more levy. Meanwhile levy deducted from growers who supply the local market are paying the levy based on grower return. This is clearly inequitable and needs to be remedied. Therefore, Summerfruit NZ is seeking to amend the Summerfruit Commodity Levy Order (2014) to reflect both industry practice and growers’ understanding of how they pay the levy. We discussed this issue with growers at the AGM and they agreed with our approach, passing a motion that was unanimously carried to: Amend the current wording of the Levy Order. The levy should be deducted on grower return not FOB.
To amend the Order, MPI require us to:
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We are still working through the exact wording of the amendment, however this will be distributed as soon as it is finalised. All information will be distributed via Prunings and the website. If you have any questions about this proposed amendment please do give me a call or send me an email. It’s important that everyone understands the intent of this amendment and the implications. Marie Dawkins
Some important points All growers can vote in this referendum whether they currently export or not. There will be no change to any other parts of the Summerfruit Commodity Levy Order. If a grower was to vote No in this referendum the levy would continue to be collected. A No vote will mean the definition of FOB is unchanged and the levy must be deducted at that point. A Yes vote will mean changing the wording to reflect the current practice. It is truly in your interest to vote in this referendum.
ATL Haulage Proud transporter to the Fruit Growers of Central Otago For all your ambient and refrigerated fruit transport requirements please call our friendly team.
Phone us on (03) 440 0531 or 0800 875 254 9
MEET THE TEAM
By VICTORIA HARRIS
RIGHT HAND WOMAN
Get to know Carolena Swaneveld in our series on the Summerfruit NZ team What part of your role do you enjoy the most? And the least? I really enjoyed attending the Summerfruit NZ conference in Mt Maunganui and getting to know more about the summerfruit industry. I found Gordon Tietjens, our opening speaker, really motivational and extremely moving, and I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation.
Tell us a bit about yourself Carolena and your background? I was born and raised in Wellington and grew up in Island Bay with three elder brothers Ricky, Robbie and Eddie. Ricky and Robbie are twins and their mother passed away when they were six weeks old. Dad married my mum when the twins were five and had my brother Eddie and me. Unfortunately Eddie passed away when he was 28 from Hodgkin’s disease.
I am enjoying working with Marie, Anna and Victoria in our new office at 166 Featherston Street, but miss the Horticulture NZ team and doing the Dominion Post quiz at morning tea and interacting with a wider group of people.
How are you contributing to the summerfruit industry? By assisting Marie, the Board and the Summerfruit NZ team.
My father was of Dutch and German descent and my mother is Samoan and Chinese, which makes me a European, Pacific Islander, Chinese Kiwi!
When you’re not working what do you get up to?
My brothers Ricky and Robbie are European Kiwis, so we don’t look alike. There has been many a time when people don’t realise we are siblings, which can make for amusing gossip. Like the time my sister-in-law was told her husband was out with another woman!
I also enjoy dining out with friends and family and like a good Central Otago Pinot Noir occasionally.
After completing my University Entrance exams at Wellington East Girls’ College, I started my first job at the NZ Forest Service as a word processing operator. I earned around $7,500 a year, which at 17, thought was a lot of money! I have worked at various government departments including Treasury, IRD and the NZ Blood Service. I have also worked as a personal assistant at BNZ and Rasch & Leong Lawyers.
What is your role at Summerfruit NZ and what does this involve? My role is business support to Marie Dawkins, the chief executive and to the Board of directors. This involves organising meetings, correspondence, board papers, travel, accommodation, catering, tradesmen and other office administrative tasks. I also attend board meetings and the AGM to take minutes and the annual conference to assist the Summerfruit NZ team. Basically, my role is to assist Marie with any jobs that frees up her time to focus on other areas.
I also enjoyed Kick the Dirt, especially the visit to Trevelyan’s kiwifruit packhouse and the networking drinks at Classic Flyers was a great opportunity to meet growers and other industry people.
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I enjoy baking and bake morning tea for the team most Mondays. So far my chocolate chilli cake seems to be the favourite.
I also enjoy reading, watching movies, walking, yoga, shopping and holidays overseas to visit family and friends.
By STEPHEN OGDEN
INSPECTOR Fruit fly market access contingencies
MARKET ACCESS UPDATE
Now that the export season is well behind you, you’re probably reflecting on the past season and looking ahead to the next, as well as having a well-deserved break of course. In the export area there are two new resources that Summerfruit NZ has developed to help packhouse operators.
Each quiz shows several pest identification questions. Some questions show one pest image, others show more than image of the same pest. Additional text may provide extra identification information such as ‘requires 20x magnification’. The basic level is a single test with multiple pest groups. Advanced levels tests can be selected so that it is possible to test skill level for a specific pest species.
New Zealand is free of fruit flies, something that we can be very thankful of. But have you wondered how a fruit fly incursion might affect your business? All of our recent fruit fly incursions have been in the north of the North Island, restricted to very small areas, and quickly eradicated. While such incursions may have limited impact on your operation, the shortness of our export season and perishability of fruit, magnify that impact and disruption. There are four tests to choose from: During an incursion, your exporter will need to be able to prove where your fruit was grown, how it was transported to the point of export and, if the transport route passes through or close to the fruit fly export restriction zone, how the fruit was protected from fruit fly infestation. These requirements are quite easy to deal with if you plan ahead and have good traceability and phytosanitary security measures built into your MPI Approved Organisation (MAO) system. I have been part of an industry-MPI group that has developed an Official Assurance Programme (OAP) for the export of fruit fly host material. This OAP describes the things that you can include in your MAO system now that will kick in immediately when an incursion is notified. If they are included in your system, they will be audited by your IVA and will be ready to go if needed. The OAP is available on the MPI website and a guidance document is also available. A meeting to explain the OAP was recently held in Central Otago. However, if you missed the discussion and need some advice, please give me a call on 04 473 6041.
fruitINSPECTOR – Pest identifier competency assessment Packhouse phytosanitary inspectors can only identify pests to their assessed level of ability. The issue we have been facing is – how is that level assessed? In response, Summerfruit NZ has developed modules in fruitINSPECTOR for use by the summerfruit industry. fruitINSPECTOR was initially developed by Pipfruit NZ and the organisation has very generously made the base programme available for adaptation by other industry groups. fruitINSPECTOR is an online programme made up of a series of quizzes testing different levels of skills: • A basic pest identification skill level, testing you for identification of pest groups. • Advanced pest identification levels, testing to a more detailed level.
Summerfruit NZ basic test for leafroller, aphid, earwig, booklice and other insect identification
aphids, earwigs, wheat bugs, leafrollers, thrips, booklice, spiders and high level beetles and weevils identification
b. Summerfruit NZ advanced test for disease identification
brown rot, grey mould, blue mould and shot hole identification
tydeid, oribatid and tetranychid mite identification
Summerfruit NZ advanced test for mite identification
d. Summerfruit NZ advanced test for beetles, true bugs and weevils
identification to family level
Each test requires 100% correct answers. Once a test has been passed, the assessed level of pest identification ability is added to your file, building up the level of assessed pest identification ability with each passed test. We are working to add more and better images to the programme – it has been quite a mission to obtain suitable images. So please bear with us as we continue to develop the programme. To get started with fruitINSPECTOR each packhouse must appoint a systems manager who is responsible for registering packhouse inspectors. The system manager will register each inspector with fruitINSPECTOR, and create a unique login for that inspector. Once registered by the systems manager, each inspector will be responsible for confirming their own registration and undertaking the pest identification tests. Summerfruit NZ is the administrator and the first point of contact for any questions or if assistance is needed. For instance; for forgotten access details, a lost certificate, or where an inspector has exceeded the permitted number of attempts at a test. Contact Summerfruit NZ at email@example.com or call 04 830 0935 during work hours.
By DENISE LANDOW
VIGOROUS AND VIBRANT Embedded in kiwifruit country with not a summerfruit orchard in sight or even on the far horizon, the annual gathering of the Summerfruit NZ clans took an unusual geographical twist this year. Renowned for its temperate climate and reputation for being a lifestyle paradise for young and old, the sunny Bay of Plenty served up a different scene for conference goers. The self-proclaimed world kiwifruit capital allowed conference goers to witness important insights into this epically-successful $1.143 billion industry – being the total fruit and service payment for New Zealand-grown fruit, including the loyalty premium; and the location of New Zealand’s largest and most efficient shipping port, The Port of Tauranga. Day one was held at the city’s vibrant sporting and events venue, the ASB Arena in Mt Maunganui. While ‘summerfruiters’ were conferencing on the top floor, below the many sporting activities in the gymnasium continued, which offered a nice backdrop of sporting activity. Roger Georgieff, MG’s national procurement manager, took the opportunity to welcome everyone and said his company was proud to be the platinum sponsor of the event. Roger encouraged growers to be challenged, to learn and to make the most of the many networking opportunities available. Next to the stage was coaching legend, Sir Gordon Tietjens for his talk, ‘leading from the front’. The entire audience was captivated by this bare-all, straight-talking and fascinating insight into the world of leadership and winning gold from the former All Black Sevens coach’s perspective. With people arriving from all over the country, registration was the all important first step. Smiles were wide and much shaking of hands was done between those hadn’t seen each other for a while, and among others being introduced for the first time. The first formal duty of the day saw Summerfruit NZ chairman, Tim Jones, take the podium to officially open the conference. He promised there would be several take home messages and thanked the conference’s new major sponsor, MG Marketing.
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Sir Gordon offered his hard-earned and entirely practical knowledge on the processes of selecting individuals for winning teams. He explained how to create a culture that keeps people winning at the sharp end, while at the same time, enjoying their work. He covered everything from strategy, to mindsets, and extended into humorous examples from real life. Sir Gordon showed clearly how simple yet powerful methods could be instantly applied to any work situation to get people refocused and perhaps most importantly, realising and releasing their own hidden potential.
Sir Gordon’s messages were solid and commanding, but they left people with confidence in that they could return home and instil new energy into their staff teams. There’s something really magical about hearing the words ‘from the horse’s mouth’ and Gordon’s traffic light analogy of ‘are you, or your team, a red, yellow or green’ will never be forgotten when appraisals need to be done of oneself and others. Following on from this sporting great, was one of the kiwifruit industry’s business success stories. Michael Franks, chief executive of Seeka, provided an overview of his company’s work and vision for the future. It certainly gave business owners another lens from which to benchmark their thoughts on just how far a New Zealand-based company could aspire to with their products and global reach. Just before the lunch break, Stuart Tustin, a principal scientist at Plant & Food Research, delivered some thoughts on pushing the boundaries of orchard design, testing and production modelling work, which has been trialled with apples and cherries over the last few years. Stuart said apples are good ‘lab rats’ and therefore, a tonne of information has been gathered about the crop. The basis of this intelligence could easily be transferred to summerfruit crops. He asked the audience not to freak out and go call the men in white coats, but just to stay with him for an interesting 20 minutes of what is being proven with new orchard design in research sites. This work is the start of an exciting and bold adventure, he said. The changes were not intended to be meagre – they are to be seen as ‘transformational’ change in every sense of the word. Stuart knew he had a captive audience and heartily welcomed any contact from curious growers who see the potential of Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS). Plus, if they are as equally as excited as him, to get stuck in – boots and all – to advance this game-changing innovation in the future of orcharding, that would be sweet music to his ears.
Following lunch on day one, attendees were again confronted in the most colourful and friendliest of ways by tech ‘quick tips’ guru, Debbie Mayo-Smith. This computer-savvy crusader ranks in the top seven per cent of speakers world-wide, and it’s easy to see why. Debbie’s infectious love of the magic of mobility made sure that no self-respecting working person of today would ever look at their smart phone in the same way. Productivity is her number one call-cry and sometimes, it’s just easier when you have such a vivacious person as Debbie delivering these much-needed messages. Who says you can’t teach an old dog some new tech tricks in one session – just ask anyone who saw Debbie in action! In a turn of direction, the next speaker was Zespri’s Carol Ward who talked about innovating for success. Carol has held overseas posts in Belgium, Taiwan and Singapore, but has now returned to New Zealand to take on the role of general manager, innovation. Next up was a remarkable look into the latest developments in the micro-world of tissue culture, DNA fingerprinting of plants and the process surrounding the time-consuming importation of new cultivars into the country. Jenny Aitken (yes, that’s Trisha Aitken’s sister) from The Tree Lab gave a once-over of what new technologies may be required for the future of summerfruit crops in New Zealand. Her work has mainly been in the kiwifruit and forestry industries, but the science developed is just as applicable to the summerfruit sector. Growers could immediately relate to the relevance of Jenny’s material, and her messages that inevitable uptake of such technology as being critical for the future success of the industry. The fact that setting up a genetic DNA fingerprint database of cultivars would be a one-off and quite reasonable cost, came as a welcome surprise to most. Such genetics could be traced from tree to quite literally, the end product. The fruit found in drinks, or used in yoghurts, can easily be traced back to its source – a mind-blowing but real fact. At this point, there was an eerie silence in the room as people began to see the global significance of her information. Following afternoon tea, the tide turned to something all of us tend to struggle with these days – information management. Simon Lind from Montage discussed future tools for this increasingly important part of running an orchard business. A natural progression from this talk was the preview of Summerfruit NZ’s new website and secure portal. Both Victoria Harris, communications advisor, and Anna Clark, administrator, shared their practical knowledge of the systems which will help take the organisation to the next level for growers. And as always – there was a plug for any change of contact details to be notified to head office, so that every sort of communication can get to the right people – the first time.
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A hardy group stayed for the 23rd Annual General Meeting of Summerfruit NZ, chaired by Tim Jones, and assisted by chief executive Marie Dawkins. At 5.30pm, the day was not quite over and one the of conference highlights was about to start. A total change of scene ushered in the much anticipated networking drinks and nibbles. Held at aviation museum and event centre, Classic Flyers, in the midst of restored aircraft fighters and yester-year vehicles, conference goers made the most of catching up with old faces and new industry colleagues. The informal party was a hive of discussion, listening, laughter and retelling of events that had been the experience of everyone’s year to date and harvesting season. Growers, marketers, sponsors, speakers and industry-related partners had a great catch up. No time was wasted, yet it seemed as if all of a sudden, the group had to disperse and get on with their individuallyplanned dinner arrangements. Next morning, it was up early to have a military-style cooked breakfast while the wild wind kicked up an impressive crashing of waves outside of the haven provided by Mt Maunganui’s Ocean Sports Club. Over their breakfasts, the conference participants were offered points of view from Barry O’Neill, of Kiwifruit Vine Health about why the organisation works with the Port of Tauranga. This was followed by Steve Gilbert, MPI’s director of border clearance services.
The rest of the day was packed with seeing new sights, getting onto normally off-limits areas, getting behind the scenes, learning from the top, sharing grower stories and even sampling a new kiwifruit variety. All this was done in style with the orange fluro vests provided by MG Marketing, so no-one could hide in the background â€“ even if they wanted to. Bay of Plenty hosts did their region proud and welcomed all visitors with open arms. Behind the security gates and from the safety of their buses, everyone was spellbound at the Port of Tauranga, where they got up close to the jaw dropping size of the portâ€™s container straddles. Such experiences are offered only rarely to outsiders, and the brilliant sunshine played its part and the port-side adventure made a spectacular encounter. They should have asked a quiz question to guess how many logs were on the wharf that morning â€“ people were stunned at the sight of the piles of logs that seemed to have no end. Next stop was a bracing morning tea, due to the cool wind, at Plant & Food Research in Te Puke.
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Here we had talks by scientists, operations manager, Stuart Kay and avocado specialist, Zac Hanley. Zac talked about avocado production work in progress by the combined forces of Plant & Food Research, Waikato University and NZ Avocado. Leaving the comfort of the lecture room, Stuart Tustin held a talk among kiwifruit vines, where it was interesting to see the orchard’s artificial canopy construction. Back on the buses, and it was a short ride to a kiwifruit industry leader, Trevelyan’s Pack and Cool. In small groups we were taken around the site to learn first-hand how the company runs things in its own uncompromising ways – with a lot of heart and soul, and devotion to staff well-being as a major component in their ongoing success. The management’s caring relationship with domestic and overseas workers is a legacy to be proud of. Trevelyan’s management team are never afraid of ‘looking under some pretty big rocks’, and that encompasses everything including staff welfare, sustainability, social media or any matter a grower and packer may face. Last stop of the day was with honey producer and product manufacturer, Comvita in nearby Paengaroa, who welcomed the summerfruit gang for a late afternoon talk. Many took advantage of the chance to purchase some of Comvita’s speciality products. The much-awaited conference degustation dinner at Mills Reef Winery in Tauranga had everyone don their finest. As a departure from former conference dinners, the presentation of awards and trophies was completed before dishes were served. In accepting their Life Membership awards, Jeffery Turner, said he and brother Peter, were two ordinary Kiwi brothers endeavouring to make a healthy difference by being active in what they enjoy doing.
‘It takes an exceptional person to be a grower with the risks and difficulties presented by the unpredictable and changeable weather we experience in New Zealand, and so we take this opportunity to salute all growers – and recognise the key role you fill in industry and the challenging job it is to maintain consistency of supply and quality for any product whether seasonal or year-round.’ ‘Thank you again for the honour of this award which we humbly receive on behalf of the inspirational people who have gone before us, and the stand-out team we are associated with today.’ Trisha Aitken, recently departed NZ Market coordinator, was acknowledged with an award in recognition of her 10 years’ contribution to the industry. Board vice chairman, Roger Brownlie, said Trisha had a real impact on the industry and had shown great passion and energy during her time with the organisation. The Mack Nicol Award for Commitment to Excellence was bestowed on Earnscleugh orchardist, Wayne McIntosh. Dean Astill presented the trophy to Jeremy Hiscock who kindly accepted on Wayne’s behalf. After the various recognitions were completed, the guests expectantly faced the extravagant dinner – by the range of glasses and cutlery set up for each person, it was going to be something of a gastronomy adventure. The five-course menu crafted by head chef, Ant Lawler, was matched with Mills Reef’s award-winning wines. Chief winemaker, Tim Preston, elucidated upon each wine’s finer points as the accompanying courses were served. The summerfruit gathering again made the most of the opportunity to mix and mingle amid the wine barrels and glitter of lights. Noise levels were near deafening but the animation on faces told a wonderful story as people hopped from table to table to bend each others’ ears. After the dessert and more talking, the participants alighted the winery’s fairy tale-like wide stairs upwards towards the foyer and take their departure into the night. The powerful momentum and exchange of energy between the summerfruit community over the previous two days will certainly continue during the year – to be unleashed again at next year’s conference no doubt.
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BOOTS ON–SWITCH ON
A sports arena with blinding floodlights along with the intense scrutiny of global media analysing your every move might seem a world away for fruitgrowers, but super-successful rugby coach, Sir Gordon Tietjens, shared simple tools for owners and managers to create wins within their teams, or any workplace.
‘Having humour in the work place is also massively important. That’s something that we don’t have enough of in society – the fun element.’
From his experiences as a boss in a privately-owned Tauranga engineering company, and as a winning coach of the All Black Sevens, Gordon left delegates with take home tips for workplace chiefs to make easy wins within their own teams.
‘But when it came to crunch time, the saying with the group was: boots on–switch on.’
Everyone enjoyed Gordon’s no-nonsense yet humble style. It’s true, he’s used to being a commanding and persuasive presence in a room, but winning over a crowd instantly is a skill he’s honed from hard work and never-ending observation of those around him.
‘There’s always a lot of hard work behind the scenes. I expect my players, or anyone who works for me, to empty the tank – to give it their all,’ he said.
Over the years, people have asked Gordon what is the key ingredient for why his teams do so well.
‘I put it down to the culture. I always talk about TEAM – together everyone achieves more.’ When establishing a team, Gordon deliberately embeds a ‘winning’ culture. ‘When I first took over the role as the All Black Seven’s coach I needed to establish a culture based on traditional values: humility, leadership and respect,’ he said.
Even within the All Blacks Sevens team, when the group was building into any tournament or game, the guys liked having lots of fun.
In his time Gordon has worked with many great leaders and identifies those as people who lead from the front.
‘I was never reliant on individuals with the X factor to win me tournaments. I could lose a Christian Cullen or a Jonah Lomu in the first minute of the very first game. Then you have to look to the guys who come off the bench, and give them lots of confidence. ‘I have a favourite saying: whoever plays, will do the job. You’ve got to have that confidence with those guys as well.’ His teams are always about ‘we’ never about ‘I’. Team unity is critically important, and for Gordon, unity means, and is, family. Team unity and passion creates the culture.
Being passionate for whom you represent is about what the jersey or company logo means to players or staff. ‘That polo shirt, the company you work for, passion has to be a part of the enjoyment factor in our work environments.’ Team discipline is a non-negotiable and he broke it down further into two areas – self-motivation and nutrition. ‘Players (and staff) need to be hugely motivated to get out and work hard. With sevens players, our game is all about conditioning. We have to work unbelievably hard in training. Every time players come into an assembly they get tested. If they haven’t got up to certain levels, then they won’t get selected,’ he said. Nutrition is the other key to ultimate success. His players are never allowed to eat any fried food – never, never and never! Gordon could not make it any plainer – ‘nutrition has played a massive role in us winning tournaments’. ‘My current players are making those nutritional changes and they’re starting to get fitter. Our drive is to get the 2020 Olympics. ‘I also talk about the positivity factor, and that means being really positive in the workplace.
‘Even when you have to discipline a staff member, or one of the team, I believe in always addressing the negative in a positive way. So, with that particular employee or player, when they leave my office, if I’ve delivered the message well – he (or she) still wants to work for me. ‘If you don’t deliver those messages well, they will walk out and drop their heads. They’ll then grab a couple of workmates within the team for a bit of support, and that’s when you have a division starting. ‘So it’s massively important, as a manager or coach, how you deliver a message to that worker or player, because you still want him to work (or play) for you,’ Gordon said. Gordon offered the HOGS system to the audience – or ‘habits of greatness’ which was a real eye-opener.
Gordon painted a picture in the audience’s minds with the help of a visual traffic light analogy. Players or workers, could be classed as green, yellow or red. Green is the colour everyone should aspire to – those who always give their best, all the time, and never quit – even when things are tough and Gordon gave Eric Rush and Ritchie McCaw as being perfect examples.
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Yellows are those who sometimes ‘ring the bell’ or give in. And reds are always ringing the bell and saying they’re too tired, it’s too much hard work, they’re frequently late for training, or don’t adhere to meal plans. Within your workforce right now, you could actually put a colour code against each employee, he suggested.
‘A lot of players are seen as yellows by their team mates, and they are a minefield to coach. In the yellow sector you have probably the most talented players but you never know quite what you’re going to get out of them when they play. Some days they’re on fire, others they’re not, for whatever reason.’ A key message from Gordon is that you cannot have any reds in a team that is striving for success. ‘Reds destroy you. They’re infectious. You can’t have any reds in your team or you have to manage them out. As a manager, the question you have to ask is are they retrievable? ‘Yellows can become greens. If you’ve got the will and the want, you can get there. That’s the challenge. Can you get someone who’s a red, to then become a yellow, to become a green? If you’ve got greens within your team, you’ll be so successful.’ Gordon’s only human and knows everyone can have yellow days, but 90% of the time, leaders who lead from the front need to be a green. He does look at new initiatives and innovations in this everchanging world we live in today, but he’s also a firm believer that if something is working well – don’t throw it away. ‘I’m a real believer; you never walk away from what works for you,’ explains Gordon. Having a clear understanding of what your role is within your team is also helpful – be it as a manager or a staffer.
If people can remember to ‘switch on, switch off’ and enjoy their wider connections through hard work – at the end of the day, everyone can look each other, and the world in the eye and declare: ‘we emptied the tank together’.
PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES Dr Stuart Tustin was tasked with giving a futuristic talk for conference. While he sat waiting to go on stage, he mused that planting an orchard is pretty ‘futuristic’ – in that young trees are put in the ground and for the next 20 years ahead, it’s a rollercoaster. The science and technology behind orchard systems yet to come is hard work – ‘we’re not here just to eat our sandwiches and do five per cent better per annum, we’re looking to get transformational change with a range of tree crops under the Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS) programme. ‘We’re not very far into this adventure and much current thinking is speculation based on the collective knowledge of our teams and international colleagues. ‘The big questions are: what are the targets and who set them? The answer is that science actually sets the targets,’ he stated. Mindful that the gathering was brimming with summerfruit aficionados, Stuart smiled and discussed Plant & Food Research’s recent work with apples. ‘The reason being is that apples are our lab rat for tree fruit crops. It’s the one that we know and have the most information about,’ he explained, and then shared scientific understandings upon why New Zealand orchards are so productive. Basically, the studies regarding sunlight in orchards are turning the world of orchard design on its head. As light utilisation by the orchard increases, so the yields go up.
Good orchards in New Zealand can reach up to 100-120 tonne per ha at maturity. But the big factor is that only 60% of the available sunlight is being utilised.
Stuart posed the thought that at a level of 90% sunlight utilisation, the modelling forecasts show production of up to 170 tonne per ha of apples. ‘And most people, when you talk to them about this, look at you and think you’re nuts,’ he said. ‘But that’s where good, hardcore, plant physiology research and credible modelling can help set targets. We’re usually victims of our historical experience and we tend to judge the future from our understanding of history. ‘Where in this context, we can actually use modelling to say well that’s what a physiological target says could be realistic. And in actual fact, often we find that it’s way beyond what we would have considered to be reasonable.’ That’s the issue – 40% of the energy available to grow a crop is actually growing grass, and helps underline the major challenges towards greater productivity potential. It’s now known as ‘the design challenge’ – and taking orchards, and perhaps making them into super-orchards.
‘If we’re going to get our lighting reception up to 85% or greater – which we know should lead to higher productivity – we have to bring our rows closer together,’ he said. Voila! An orchard design of two-dimensional canopies, with closespaced rows of 1.5-2m. ‘Some of you guys in the room are probably ringing the guys in white coats thinking, these guys have really lost the plot, but stick with me, and we’ll have an interesting 20 minutes,’ Stuart reassured. ‘The prototype configuration that allows close rows has branches with vertical uprights as the basic fruiting structure. The intention
is for the tree to be thin and largely unbranching. Trials are being done with cherries, apricots, and in the future, we’ll go to the other stonefruits as well,’ he added. Bringing rows closer together means there still needs to be a canopy that meets all the physiological requirements for high fruit quality: high colour, high internal quality, good firmness and size, and by the way, a heck of a lot more of it. ‘It’s very early days,’ Stuart advised. ‘Taking learnings from apple orchard trials, we have studies with cherries and apricots which are staged further behind. We were able to use the limited experience we have into those stonefruit crops.’ Panoramic views were shown on slides of the first prototype planting of cherries in the FOPS programme at the Clyde Research Centre, with rows replicated in 1.5-2m spacing. The question is, what should the targets be for cherries? A simple arithmetic model reveals some astonishing findings. The narrow ‘planar cordon’ planted trees are at least three metres apart, and the rows two metres apart. This conservative layout says there would be 1,667 trees per ha, with 12 vertical fruiting stems on each tree. They will go up to 3-3.5m, that gives 20,000 stems per ha. So from that, Stuart’s team has worked on a ‘deconstructive modelling’ technique to take what looks insane on one hand, back to something what looks like a perfectly agreeable reality, he explained. ‘We’ve taken an aspirational yield target of 30 or 40 tonne per ha of fruit and translated that back to what it means on an individual stem of these trees. It’s a simplified and idealised model, taking 30 tonne per ha. ‘We’re only talking about 1.5kg of cherries per stem – only 125 fruit. If you had an average cherry size of 12gms, cherry growers will say, cherries are more than 12gms or better. But in these systems, one of the big things we’re trying to do is to begin to manage sunlight much better, so that we can improve bud quality – so we would expect to grow our fruit at the larger end of the scale of what we’re accustomed to,’ he explained. ‘In the end, when you take this deconstructed model to the end point, then we see that we only need 40-55 fruiting nodes in each of these stems to be able to be in the 30-40 tonne per ha yield range. So it’s taking a slightly unrealistic looking target and deconstructing it back to what the production unit might look like – and it starts to look doable.’ What have they found? ‘When we moved from our first effort to our second prototype with apples, we increased the development of the canopy up to 50%. In other words, we learn from our mistakes pretty quickly.’ Other learnings shared included that everything known about colt rootstock being not precocious is now thought to be somewhat incorrect. It’s not the lack of precocity in the rootstock, but rather the type of management used in cherry orchards which delays cropping when it’s young, Stuart said.
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By the second year the vertical and Vee configurations grew a canopy very quickly with almost no pruning intervention, compared with what is done with a typical young cherry tree. The thinking now is that a lot of productive canopy can be grown quickly. ‘We are encouraged and think that pretty much what we’re doing with apricots, we can expect to find with plums. ‘I’d like to encourage those keen to have a crack at this approach with plums – I’d be in there boots and all,’ he said. Another big question to be answered is: what do we do with peaches and nectarines, and is this a reasonable approach? ‘We haven’t got any work underway at the moment but we’ve done a lot of thinking about it and we’d be keen to move in this direction. ‘We think there are some great opportunities to explore this approach with peaches and nectarines and we’d be keen to help people who may want to have a crack at this.’ In wrapping up, Stuart thought it was worth asking, just how credible and realistic is this stuff? ‘I have to say we get fantastic feedback from the different industry sectors, we get lots of discussion, we get lots of advice, we get the brick bats – it’s all valuable information. What we really want to do is to be able to work through some of these studies and to see actually what the science tells us. ‘It is a completely new vision for orchard design. I think it’s one of the few orchard systems that has been designed from physiological principles upwards. The tree ended up looking like it did, not because we liked the look of it, but because that’s the only way we could fit all of the requirements together in a coherent manner to achieve what we wanted to do.’ This goes in the totally opposite direction of conventional production. These new systems rely on controlling vigour, and the way to control that is to prune less and to crop more. This is achievable on a successive basis if you have very good sunlight, Stuart says.
Current orchard systems fail in managing light. This is evidenced by the crop growing away from the lower centre of the tree. ‘The only way light is able to get back generally is to hack the hell out of the tree which makes it grow like stink and you grow an awful lot of dry mass and herbage,’ Stuart declared. Yields are stuck at levels which have not changed hugely in a generation or more. ‘I think it’s a pretty exciting innovation – it’s kind of different to anything else in the world. ‘Looking at cherries – it has some similarities to UFO, but I have to say it has some major differences too, but we’re confident. Let’s put it a different way – if we fail and only get to 25 tonne per ha of cherries, that’s a pretty great way to fail,’ he said.
New Zealand summerfruit growers may think that the world of laboratories and microscopic tissue cultures are beyond their personal input, but think again.
for example, viruses and phytoplasmas. Currently, experts are looking at better techniques to eliminate viruses, and this can be done within the sterile and secure environments of tissue culture in the laboratory.
Dr Jenny Aitken of The Tree Lab is an expert in tissue culture technologies, and from her Bay of Plenty base, has worked on significant scientific and commercial programmes in the agriculture, horticulture and forestry industries.
In addition, inspection/sampling at the lab stage could also shorten or potentially eliminate the greenhouse PEQ time in some cases.
Jenny was asked to talk about the new technologies available for people working in the summerfruit sector where the work is just starting to ramp up. Her talk covered three main aspects: the process of importing new cultivars, the use of endophytes to improve production and reduce disease, and plant DNA fingerprinting. For those who have imported new cultivars they will be familiar with MPI’s website which states the two health standards required for importing any Prunus species. One is ‘with an offshore facility’. Here, MPI sets up facilities outside of New Zealand to pre-screen any threats. The second option for those who don’t put material through an offshore facility, is a twoyear post-entry quarantine (PEQ) for greenhouse screening time. This makes the importing scenario both lengthy and costly. The offshore facility option is shorter (9-12 months PEQ in New Zealand), but it’s also more expensive to set up. Jenny attended a recent NZ Plant Producer’s biosecurity workshop in Rotorua, and said that they are looking at how the PEQ time can be reduced for all plant species coming into the country. ‘It’s really important to businesses here if we can reduce that time. It means we can get our products in the market quicker and we’re looking at new technologies to do this.’ She explained that plant DNA and next generation sequencing procedures can be used for earlier detection of some of threats,
Tissue culture is a safe way of bringing things into New Zealand. Generally, when you’re importing a plant, there are no insects or fungi because they are easily detected, Jenny explained. Some bacteria are harder to spot because sometimes they are inside the plant and they are not generally seen. Viruses and phytoplasmas are much harder to detect because they’re inside the plant too. Most of the diseases can be dealt with, but on the other hand, the post-entry quarantine periods allow scientists time to see what the plant does, once inside a secure glasshouse. Another new concept, which Jenny put on the table at a recent biosecurity workshop, takes quite a different angle and it requires testing new technologies and doing the accompanying science at the lab stage using ‘photoautotrophic tissue culture technologies’ to be compared with traditional PEQ procedures using a greenhouse. Inspection and sampling at the lab stage could potentially shorten or perhaps even eliminate the greenhouse PEQ time in some cases. It’s hoped that MPI will take it on board within the next one to two years, she said. She’s advancing the ideas of growing plant tissue cultures, under
sterile conditions in a ‘mini greenhouse’, to quite a large size. An easy to remember definition of tissue culture is basically the system of growing plants in a ‘year-round summer’. ‘We can control the light and day length. So, the question is, can we look at disease expression in a large tissue culture plant, which is actually photosynthesising under sterile conditions?’ To trial the technique, the research can be run in parallel with the traditional PEQ period. It can also be determined if the need for a greenhouse stage can be eliminated for some cultivars. Jenny has got the go ahead to prepare a brief for MPI chiefs, focusing on the cost-benefit analysis of different species, various PEQ times, and new technologies as the budgets are not unlimited. ‘What we need is your help with selection. We need to pick some plants to test these new technologies, in order to do the science that MPI requires in order to adjust the Import Health Standard and could go a long way to helping reduce the PEQ time.’ Next Jenny walked us down the path to an unseen and usually forgotten world of endophytes.
‘We humans have millions of bacteria in our gut which are beneficial to our health. Plants and animals have the same. Plants can have beneficial organisms, such as fungi and bacteria inside them, which can make the plant grow better, be more productive and have internal disease-resistant capabilities. It’s become a new technology worldwide and has been developing in a fast-track way over the last five years,’ she explained. ‘Only three years ago, there was global recognition of the benefits of endophytes. Scientists now view it like a second genome. Much like the human micro-biome in our gut, we can enable plants to be healthier and potentially add new traits without conventional breeding – so that’s where people are getting really excited today.’ Her fascinating example was the taxol story. This anti-cancer drug is widely used worldwide, and was called the first ‘gold endophyte’. The taxol was found in a Pacific Yew (Taxus genus) tree in the North-West USA. This plant produced taxol which kills cancer cells. People got keen and grew the tree in new countries, including New Zealand and France. However, the plants didn’t produce taxol – why not? Because the endophyte was present in the North American tree, and that organism was not in the exported plants or seeds. In short, the tree will not produce the taxol without the presence of the endophyte. Jenny says there are lots of examples of similar things now worldwide, including our Kiwi success story with rye grass
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and the AR1 endophyte released in 2000 – which resulted in significant increases in profit for the dairy industry. Moving onto her next topic, Jenny said that setting up a database of cultivars is a great idea for any orchard nowadays – and it’s not as expensive as some may think. ‘By setting up a database of each species, you can track your plants’ different cultivars, right from the lab or early stages – through to the fruit, juices and many other products. It’s quite exciting.’ To set up a good basic database, there needs to be at least 10 cultivars of each species. After that, cultivars can be differentiated between the ones first put in, plus any new ones. ‘It’s getting simpler and cheaper,’ she said. Jenny’s presentation showed graphs of kiwifruit DNA fingerprints and another species. Just like lines on a graph, these markers show if the fingerprints are correct, or not. Some species only need four markers so it’s a cheaper database to set up. Peaks are plotted in a graph for each cultivar, and therefore, different individual cultivars throw a completely different profile or fingerprint. This system is exactly what is used for human and animal DNA fingerprinting. Such databases can provide answers very quickly, so why invest time and money in such a practice? Jenny explained that it’s quite a low cost to establish and may offers instant intellectual property protection. ‘If you PVR (own the plant variety right) your cultivar, you can track it, from your nursery or field right through to the product in the market and, if you’re exporting it, to anywhere in the world. ‘It’s an upfront one-off cost. Once done, you’ve got that database for 1,000 years. It doesn’t have to be redone and any new cultivar you breed or bring into New Zealand, can be added. The DNA database set up can range from NZ$25,000 – $40,000, and costs anything from $150 – $500 thereafter for each sample and/or query.’ In summing up her talk, Jenny said there are new technologies available for summerfruit growers, breeders and exporters. The work to reduce PEQ times to speed up exporting and generation times for breeders is getting underway, and the horticultural industry can reduce disease and improve growth rates by the use of endophytes.
‘I think there are huge benefits for New Zealand if we can get in and get these new technologies started. By applying them we stay globally competitive. There should be some easy wins to pick,’ she finished encouragingly.
BORDER CONTROL INSIGHTS MPI border clearance services director, Steve Gilbert, supported by Tauranga’s chief quarantine officer, Janine Mayes, added some humour to a very serious subject during day two’s breakfast at the Ocean Sports Club in Mt Maunganui. Steve’s an extremely entertaining speaker and his delivery certainly gave those in the room a rare and enthralling overview about border experts’ work that is largely out of sight of the public. They shared the welcome news for the Tauranga team that a cruise ship trial accreditation is now being made permanent for future seasons. This means that last season’s inspection resources were able to be redirected towards more high-risk pathways. Border staff spent significantly less time checking passengers who came ashore to day trip in the Bay of Plenty. Summer is a high-risk time for the brown marmorated stink bug and staff were able to target more inspections to this pathway. This is a pest no one wants, especially orchardists. Over time more insights are being built up into likely cargo these unwanted pests may hitchhike with.
On a positive note, there is promise in training detector dogs to sniff them out, and one mongrel named Wini will be starting on imported machinery and vehicles this season. This is certainly one pest that staff would urge every grower or orchardist – be they home enthusiasts or commercial operators – to become familiar with and look out for. A large part of border workers’ time is spent inspecting samples of the million plus TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) empty shipping containers that come through the Port of Tauranga. Containers imported into New Zealand must be clean! Sampling rates fluctuate, depending on the compliance rates of previous inspections and can vary significantly depending on country of origin and ports of load. Containers with contamination from previous consignments such as soil, plant material, ants, snails and other pests are treated. And as a result, future consignments from the same origin may find themselves with 100% inspection rates.
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By MIKE SIM
BUMBLEBEE BENEFITS Catch the morning sun Bumblebees will forage at lower light levels and temperatures than honeybees, meaning they usually start work earlier in the day and work later. However, we can also try to prompt them out of the hive as early as possible in the morning. We all know how hard it is to sleep with no curtains and the sun streaming in the window. Position the hive so that it catches the morning sun as soon as possible (ie avoid morning shade), with the entrance/exit holes facing to the east, and the added warmth and light should see greater bee activity from earlier on.
Bumblebees offer some significant benefits in orchards: they’re superior at cross-pollination; work for longer each day, in poorer and colder weather; and spend less time on each flower while delivering high amounts of pollen, which may help speed up pollen tube growth. Honeybees and bumblebees can complement each other with bumblebees performing in a wider range of situations and honeybees supplying high pollinator numbers when conditions are more optimal. Increased competition has also been shown to improve honeybee efficiency, helping to get more out of honeybee hives. Unfortunately, at the time of year when many summerfruit crops flower, wild bumblebee queens are only just coming out of hibernation, so supplementing the crop with managed bumblebee hives may be beneficial. With more growers trialling managed bumblebees in their orchards, it is worthwhile considering how to maximise their benefit.
Introduce early Bumblebees should be introduced at the first flowers, or up to four days beforehand. Unlike honeybees, they are not likely to leave the crop en masse for more attractive flowering plants, so do not need to be enticed with a high percentage bloom. Bumblebees tend to work closer to their hive, change foraging locations fairly regularly, and do not communicate where resources are located. They all forage independently. The bumblebees will generally start pollinating one to two days after introduction, however it may take up to five days for the hive to reach full activity.
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Spread evenly around the crop Don’t put all your bumblebee hives in one or two clumps on the edge of your orchard. Generally, the hives are light and you’ll get better results if you spread them more evenly throughout and within the crop. Bumblebees might not forage great distances from the hive and may also avoid flowers immediately around their own hive (probably to avoid catching the attention of predators), so an even spread of hives will see good coverage and bees pollinating around the hives of other bees. Putting hives within the crop, rather than on the edge or outside, forces the bees to fly past open flowers, helping to keep them focused on your crop.
Give the different bee species some space Don’t put your bumblebees right beside your honeybees, space them out by 50 to 100 metres. Honeybees have been known to rob the bumblebees of their honey, even though the bumblebees may be larger. This is more likely to be an issue when the bumblebee hives are supplied with sugar syrup, however, it is nevertheless best to avoid putting the hives too near each other to reduce the chances of this happening. If honeybees are out stealing sugar from bumblebees they are not visiting your flowers, and the bumblebee hive may suffer significant damage and loss of bees in the process.
Warm blooded Bumblebees have incredible control over their own internal temperature, spending much of their life at 30oC or above. Bumblebees cannot fly if their thoracic temperature drops below 30oC, with the optimum temperature being more like 40oC. Adults generate heat by flying or shivering their flight muscles, and their furry bodies help them to maintain their temperature and pollinate during cool conditions. They also use their own warmth to incubate their young (brood), maintaining them at a
Agitated bees may fail to properly orient themselves and may get lost, which will reduce your workforce and slow the development of the hive. It is a good idea to prepare the box, such as removing any protective flaps, when you position your hive. This makes it simpler and less fuss to open the hive once the bees have settled.
Self-contained Once in position and open, there is basically no more intervention required, the bumblebees will look after themselves. The box can be supplied with or without sugar syrup, depending on the availability and quality of nectar in the crop. If using hives with syrup, make sure the hive is level (not angled), as uneven surfaces may reduce the sugar availability. If you need to spray something on the crop during flowering, it is possible to return the bumblebees to the box before doing so. very stable 30oC for optimal development. Even with no insulation around the hive, bumblebees are capable of maintaining brood temperatures up to 25oC above ambient, and will also fan the hive for cooling purposes if temperatures climb too high. From a pollination perspective, this can be costly if foraging bees are recruited for thermoregulation. If the bees are unable to keep the brood warm or cool enough, the poor development of the young may also mean fewer bees working the crop in the days to come. For winter and early spring flowering crops, and the colder the local climate, it may be beneficial to provide additional insulation around the hive box. Similarly, if the box is not weather resistant, it is a good idea to raise the hive off the ground and provide it with some protection against rain. Your bumblebee supplier should be able to supply weather resistant packaging that doubles as extra insulation. Later in the season it is also a good idea to shade the hive from peak day sun, where it is possible they may overheat, but this is more likely to be an issue later in spring and summer. A visible sign of overheating is bees standing around the exit hole flapping their wings.
Wait before opening While you should always put the hives out as soon as possible after arrival, the bumblebees can be a little agitated if bumped around during transport. A buzzing noise in the box may give you warning of this, but regardless of the noise, you should always wait at least one hour after positioning the hive before releasing the bees.
In summary • introduce bumblebees at first flowers or up to four days beforehand • position the hive to catch the early morning sun, in a hospitable location • spread the hives evenly within and throughout the crop • keep honeybee and bumblebee hives 50-100m apart • hives will perform better if kept warm but not too hot • wait one hour after positioning the hive before releasing the bees • hives are self-contained, and can be supplied with or without sugar syrup • keep hives level when sugar syrup is used. If you get your bumblebees in early enough and take the time to provide them with a suitable environment, the greater their activity will be when it counts. They will help you to pollinate your early flowers, reduce the risk of bad weather during flowering, and should reward you with improved pollination and less variability in fruit set from year to year. As an added benefit, managed bumblebee hives will also go on to produce large quantities of new queens, which should help to boost your wild bumblebee population in years to come.
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By HARRIS ByVICTORIA VICTORIA HARRIS
THINKING Wayne McIntosh is an orchardist who is a ‘think outside the square’ type of man, one who prefers to ask ‘why not?’ when others are asking ‘why?’. He was recently honoured by his peers when he was awarded Summerfruit NZ’s Mack Nicol trophy – an award given to those who have displayed excellence within the industry. His innovative thinking, constant striving to develop ways to improve fruit quality, and his questioning of doing things in the traditional way, earned him the honour. ‘I am very proud to receive the Mack Nicol award, it really is unexpected,’ Wayne says. ‘It is a reflection of what I have done for the past 15 years. I love being in this industry – I like the seasonality and the freedom, the flexibility, and being master of my own destiny.’ The 64ha McIntosh Orchard, near Alexandra, has been in the family since 1881. Wayne joined his parents, Stuart and Sharyn, about 15 years ago and since then has worked alongside them to improve fruit quality and production, develop overseas markets for their products, and by working to promote the sector, he has earned the respect of his staff and the industry.
‘My parents are still very much part of the business, although they have the flexibility to take a step back if they wish’ says Wayne.
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Early on Wayne recognised that Asian countries would become markets of significant importance to New Zealand and developed his marketing strategy to accommodate that. Despite being in a seasonally busy industry, his most important work is his family and spending time with partner Jacky and their sons William (2), Christopher (8) and Nicholas (10). According to Wayne ‘the key to a successful business is balance – having the family around, and having a life outside the business’. Summerfruit NZ chairman Tim Jones says the Board chose Wayne as this year’s recipient for two reasons. ‘The key things that really made the decision easy to award the trophy to Wayne was his work in succession planning on his place, and his ability to think outside the square as to the way his place should run.’ The succession plan Wayne has put in place means his three sons will have options to choose what they want to do; whether it will be as the next generation to work the orchard, or in some other career. Tim says Wayne was not prepared to ‘look over the neighbour’s fence to see how they did it’, but really think his way through the process. ‘He took over the business from his parents and carried it on and it has flourished into something pretty special.’ Wayne put himself through the Icehouse business programme and took his business to ‘a whole other level. He had the attitude that just because something has been done one way for 100 years, does not mean that it needs to keep on being done like that,’ Tim says. ‘He has built a very successful business for his family and for generations to come.’ He was also instrumental in establishing the Central Otago Young Fruit Growers Competition in 2015 and his environmental ethos
Photo by Heidi Horton
won him the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Award’s supreme award as well as four merit awards in 2014. ‘That was pretty impressive and kudos to him,’ says Tim. Wayne has developed green belts of native plants, and has introduced trout to his dam. He is also working on connecting his dams with his pumphouses so his irrigation system becomes gravity fed. The way he sees it, the people within the industry need to be willing to ‘ask the hard questions’ when trying to solve problems and cross barriers. They should be asking ‘why not?’ instead of ‘why?’ and if they do not have the answers, then they should go find the people who do.
‘That is what we, as growers, need to do to improve our industry. I like to think outside the box, but I still have a respect for many of the tried and true traditional ways. It is about finding a balance.’ If the horticulture industry is to meet its $10 billion value target by 2020, then any changes – whether from technology or growing practices, to establishing career pathways, finding new markets, getting the right fruit to the right market at the right time, or telling the right stories – they had to come through the growers. ‘Change has got to be driven by the growers, and if growers don’t put up their hands, then not a lot changes,’ Wayne says.
He wants to see the industry work hard to appeal to younger people and encourage them to choose horticultural careers, particularly as more orchards are needed to meet the predicted increasing demand for New Zealand’s quality fruit, especially cherries. ‘Demand is going to ramp up pretty quickly, but production is not keeping up. Upskilling the next generation, that is key to it. Young people need a clear [career] pathway, similar to dairy farming.’ In addition, as the demand for New Zealand fruit, and cherries in particular, rises, then it is important to better utilise the land they have, and to turn land on the fringes into a more productive resource. Wayne says it is also important to ‘spread the risk’ by looking at alternative crops, which can be grown and sold after the main crops have finished, such as feijoas or figs. He also encourages other growers to share themselves, their information, their skills and their expertise among others in the industry, something he practises himself as he recently bought a new grading system, which at first glance, could not fit in the shed, but with some outside box thinking, did fit. Now he has some spare equipment and wants to give it away to someone else. ‘That is what it is all about, helping someone else, passing on the knowledge and experience. There are not enough fruitgrowers around for people to fail. This industry is doing well, always changing and it has issues that need to be dealt with. If you do it right then everyone should benefit.’
By GEORGINA GRIFFITHS
SOUTHERN HIGHS IN CHARGE Napier rainfall accumulation
Blenheim rainfall accumulation
Cromwell rainfall accumulation
Recent patterns When meteorologists ‘zoom out’ from the day-to-day weather map, and instead concentrate over time scales of weeks to months, the underlying ‘flavour’ of the growing season can be identified. This information is both useful to the grower (to explain why the season went as it did), and the forecaster (who uses this knowledge, coupled with computer models, to forecast what is coming next). Over the last three months, we have seen Highs prevail at southern latitudes in the New Zealand region. This persistence of ridging over the lower South Island has produced a relatively dry run over the southwest of the country (Figure 1). In contrast, intermittent wet easterly events over the north and east North Island have resulted in a much wetter than normal autumn and early winter period there. But the impact of these southern Highs doesn’t stop at rainfall. During autumn and early winter, we have seen intense (large) wintry Highs cross New Zealand, producing foggy, frosty and cold conditions. This year, temperatures have been much cooler than last year, with frequent and fairly ‘even’ switches between cooler runs and warmer spells (Figure 2). The further south you go, the colder the overall run of temperature. But even across central and northern New Zealand, temperatures have been significantly cooler in 2017 than seen last year (compare to Figure 3), when the atmosphere was mostly stuck in an extremely warm regime (with the notable exception of August and December).
Looking ahead – Winter
Figure 1: Rainfall accumulation plots for Napier, Blenheim and Cromwell. Notice how much wetter than normal Napier has been in 2017, while Blenheim also saw a wetter phase since April. In comparison, Cromwell rainfall is tracking below average, as at the end of June.
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The long-range forecast shows continued high pressure situated over southern New Zealand as we head into July. The weather map will still have fronts and troughs on it during that time, but typically the rain makers will be weaker than usual, and often won’t yield well over the South Island. In contrast, sporadic wet easterlies are likely to continue to affect the North Island during early July, associated with intense Lows spawning over the Tasman Sea. From the second half of July and through August most of the computer models are showing a very different storyline, however. A return to mobile, westerly weather is signalled, with frequent northwesterly/southwesterly changes (fronts) crossing the country. Intermittent High pressure is likely to move into a more typical position later in winter, over the Tasman Sea.
Napier air temperature anomaly 2017 (celcius)
Blenheim air temperature anomaly 2017 (celcius)
Figure 2: Temperature anomalies (or departures from average) for the first half of 2017, for Napier, Blenheim and Cromwell.
Cromwell air temperature anomaly 2017 (celcius)
Blenheim air temperature anomaly 2016 (celcius)
Figure 3: Temperature anomalies (or departures from average) in 2016 at Blenheim.
Looking to the tropics, what about the El Nino? Most of the global climate models now predict neutral conditions for the remainder of 2017. Earlier in the year, there was talk of El Nino forming for the second half of the year, but the tendency of the model runs to back off the likelihood of, and strength of, any future El Nino event spoke volumes. MetService commentary consistently noted that here in New Zealand, what unfolded with the persistent southern High would be far more important to the winter weather patterns for us. Looking ahead for winter and spring, the Southern Ocean will almost certainly fire up later in winter. The strength of the Southern Ocean storminess (southwesterly
winds) will be key for spring temperatures, with a flow-on effect for spring growth. You can catch our latest thinking about winter weather patterns at www.metservice.com/rural/monthly-outlook, including monthly forecasts of regional rainfall and temperature. If you sign up to the monthly outlook at www.metservice.com/emails, you will receive free long-range intel and forecast maps. MetService meteorologists are also happy to answer horticultural questions on Twitter and Facebook. You can find us at MetService New Zealand on Facebook and @metservice on Twitter.
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By CHRIS HALE
UPDATES Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS)
pv. pruni causing bacterial spot, have been completed.
The survey of Central Otago cherry orchards for bactericide resistant sub-populations of Ps. syringae has been completed, and tests have been set up to determine if there is reduced disease control by bactericides in plant tissues due to resistant isolates of Ps. syringae.
• Yields for cherry blocks were lower than anticipated, based on flower numbers, but possibly caused by not applying the plant growth regulator ReTain, and by not introducing new beehives at the start of cherry flowering. • Yields for cherry at the end of the third season ranged from 2.2 to 3.8T/ha depending on spacing and cultivar. Mean fruit size ranged from 29.3 to 30.8mm diameter and 11.5 to 13.1g. • Two new blocks of cherry were planted to allow for future studies.
Apricot blocks • Yields from apricot at the end of the second season ranged from 2.5 to 4.3T/ha depending on spacing and cultivar. Mean fruit size ranged from 43.3 to 47.8mm diameter and 48.9 to 69.3g. • Trees were thinned to ensure continued growth of uprights.
Evaluation of Elite selections • All selections have been harvested and assessed as planned. All data have been collected, and final analyses are near completion and will be reported later.
Managing Pathogen Resistance in Summerfruit – Sustainable Farming Fund project Milestone reports to date have been submitted to the Sustainable Farming Fund and approved for payment. Milestone reports due in July are being prepared for submission. The survey of Central Otago orchards for fungicide resistant sub-populations of Botrytis cinerea, the cause of Botrytis rot, has been completed. Resistance testing of isolates from these orchards has been completed by Plant Diagnostics Limited, Christchurch. ‘Truthing’ of the resistant isolates on host plant tissues has also been completed. Sites in Central Otago will now be identified for the trials of Botrytis resistance management programmes. The survey of Hawkes Bay orchards for fungicide resistant sub-populations of Monilinia fructicola, the cause of brown rot, has been completed, and ‘Truthing’ of the isolates on host plant tissues is now complete. Surveys of Hawkes Bay orchards for bactericide resistant subpopulations of the bacterial pathogens Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae causing blast and canker, and Xanthomonas arboricola
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Plum Project (2017 harvest) The Plum Project under the guidance of Prof Indrawati Oey, Food Science Department, University of Otago is now underway. Redfleshed fruit supplied from Hawkes Bay (Black Doris, Omega, Malone, and Autumn Honey) and Central Otago (Black Doris and Omega) is now being tested to determine the total content of bioactive compounds, and their possible health benefits.
Scholarship Kyle Robertson from Massey University was awarded the Summer Scholarship for 2016-17 and has provided the following summary of his time spent at the Clyde Research Centre under the mentorship of Jill Stanley. Summerfruit NZ is an organisation that works with growers and research organisations such as The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited (PFR), to manage the production and quality of summerfruit in New Zealand. The ripening behaviour of apricots is not well understood as there has been little research on the relationship between ethylene production and fruit softening. There are also no well-established models for analysing soluble solids concentration. As a result, a joint summer student project between the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), based in France, and PFR has been equally funded by Summerfruit NZ and PFR to characterise apricot cultivars. This research will help give a better understanding about the physiology of apricots and also help identify potential commercial export cultivars in the Elite selections programme. I have had the privilege to work on this project during the 2016-17 summer at PFR, Clyde under the supervision of Jill Stanley. In addition, I have had the opportunity to gain some experience in other projects the summerfruit physiology team were working on, which has broadened my work experience. Having worked at PFR as a returning summer student, I have thoroughly enjoyed the work experience again. I thought that moving from Palmerston North to Clyde would be a bit of an unsettling experience at first, but from the first day I began work, I enjoyed every bit of it. I have never worked in such a
brilliant environment with such a small, yet diverse group of wonderful, kind and entertaining people. I have learnt many new concepts about orchard management and research â€“ an area in which I have had little exposure. I have also learnt a number of laboratory methods, from measuring flesh firmness to gas chromatography â€“ tools I am sure will come into use in a future career in the food industry. I would like to say thanks to Summerfruit NZ and PFR for their contribution to this project and making it possible for me to work as a summer student during the 2016-17 summer season. I would also like to give a special thanks to Jill Stanley, Claire Scofield and Ross Marshall, who have been great people to work with and have taught me many concepts new to me about horticultural practices and analyses. Finally, I would like to thank everyone at the PFR Clyde Research Centre for being such amazing and helpful people and for making my stay here one I will never forget.
Photo by Robert Lambert, Plant & Food Research
SummerGreen meetings SummerGreen research meetings were organised for Central Otago and Hawkes Bay this year in place of research sessions at the Summerfruit NZ conference. Results from these projects reported at the meetings will be available in future articles in Summerfruit.
REGIONAL ROUND UP
IN THE REGIONS HAWKES BAY By ROGER BROWNLIE Well since the last round up we have come out of a dry patch to a Cyclone Debbie in March, Cyclone Cook in April and Cyclone Donna in May. Cyclone Cook was the worst as we got a lot of superficial damage; broken branches, leaf debris everywhere and some trees down around the district as the ground was still soft from Cyclone Debbie. As a consequence, the rain replaced all the mositure we lost in the dry patch and now the ground is too wet for planting at present. We have pulled out apricots and are going to plant cherries on the new FOPs system. Deciding on the plant spacing has been the hardest decision and we have settled on 2m x 4m for vigour control, so only time will tell if we made the right choice. We started pruning in March and completed about two-thirds of it with our RSE workers before they began picking Envy apples. Afterwards the RSEs leave to go home and see their families again, which they very much look forward to. The RSE scheme is so important for our business because the workers want to work and they are consistent and reliable. When we also employ locals, students and backpackers, it becomes a good balanced workforce. The Hawkes Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association has just sent out the Good Practice Guide – Minimise Smoke Emissions from Outdoor Burning. This is just common-sense stuff, be considerate to your neighbours, think about wind direction, and burn on windy days. Thinking about this, with these new growing systems we won`t have the big wood that we have to burn at the moment. This will be a saving on smoke emissions, which can only be good for the environment. It was great to see so many of our younger growers and managers at the conference and also to catch up with you all. Personally, I got a lot of information out of the conference which will help our business into the future. I would also like to get more growers there – especially the ones that don`t normally come along. If there are any ideas of how we can create the right atmosphere to attract you please feel free to contact me. With Aotearoa winning the old mug I hope this translates into more summerfruit sales, so happy bud burst and pollination.
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MARLBOROUGH By GARY BIGNELL
This year a few of the Blenheim cherry growers decided to head to China to walk the Wall and visit the odd cherry orchard. On visiting the orchards, we noticed that the health of their trees looked impressive, but the fruit size was not up to our standard – with fruit size averaging only around 24-26mm. Arrived back to New Zealand in time to attend the Summerfruit NZ conference in Mt Maunganui, where it was good to renew friendships and listen to a wide variety of speakers including a very informative address from Seeka chief executive officer Michael Franks. We visited some interesting sites including a rather impressive kiwifruit packing shed, and then finished off the conference with a wonderful dinner and wine. Back home now and looking back to the early ’80s in Marlborough, stone fruit orchards easily outnumbered vineyards. However, since the mid ’80s the vineyards started to take over and this trend still seems to be continuing today with another 8ha of stone fruit being removed to make way for more viticulture. The vineyards now outnumber the orchards by nearly onehundred to one. With land prices currently up around the $100,000 per hectare mark, and in some cases well above that price, the viticulture industry has changed Marlborough from a horticultural hub to a viticulture stand out, at the expense of our horticultural industry. But those of us who have hung in, have reaped much better returns compared to the ’80s. The few of us left still growing summerfruit are now busy finishing pruning, and replacing and planting trees. The weather has been kind to us thus far with some heavy frosts and good chill hours under our belt, but we’re still hoping for a cold August to set us up for a good spring.
CENTRAL OTAGO By EARNSCY WEAVER
Winter! All Blacks going well, Highlanders going well and walloped the Lions by one point, curling all go, America’s Cup coming home, wet and foggy, cold, but also some typical Central winter days with a good frost followed by a beautiful sunny day. A great time of the year. Congratulations to Dr Chris Hale for arranging the recent research meeting and to the Plant & Food Research people who made all the arrangements. Over 70 growers and staff attended to hear the PFR team report on:
The science presented at the symposium was variable and covered the range of activities in the world of cherries. Some presentations were well over my head, but it was great to know that the work is being done. Work such as defining DNA markers and QTL analysis and candidate gene mapping will lead faster development of new varieties, but I am unsure where ‘Recent advances in our understanding of the S-RNase-based gametophytic self-incompatibility system in Prunus’ fits. I am sure that there was an advance somewhere for the cherry business.
• resistance and management of Botrytis and bacterial blast
Other areas reported on included:
• quality of the SNZ/PFR apricot and peach selections (of which we were told that over 10,000 trees are on order)
• some significant progress in the understanding and management of rain cracking
• Bee- to Bee+ project • what the starting points should be here in Central to sort out our fruit set problems in apricots and cherries
• a new range of cherry rootstocks • Dr (and now Professor) Matt Whiting explained some work on a precision pollination system • presentations on tree architecture and growing systems
• FOPs project.
• work on nutrients and irrigation
The forum produced much discussion on all topics following the presentations, during lunch and over a drink afterwards. There was a good range of growers in attendance with a lot of wisdom to offer. Many options were canvassed as solutions to the Botrytis, bacterial blast, and fruit set problems. Of course, the FOPs project still challenges some of the thinking out there. A good show all round and I expect most went home with some new ideas to consider. I did.
• presentations around new cherry selections being planted and coming out of breeding programmes from around the world.
Prior to the research meeting I attended the ISHS Cherry Symposium in Yamagata, Japan. There were four of us from Central who made the trip. The ISHS Cherry Symposium is held every four years with the location voted on by the ISHS members.
The previous ones that I have attended being in Washington/ Oregon states, Turkey, Chile, and Spain with the next one to be in Beijing, China in 2021. The symposium was held over four and half days with the last day being a field trip.
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So, some great take home information among this lot. And then there was the Summerfruit NZ annual conference. Another great conference (I’m sure that there are others reporting on the conference). So back to what is happening at home. Autumn seemed to close off very quickly with no long Indian summer to help the trees into winter – frosts were recorded in the first week of April. May recorded 25 frosts at the PFR Clyde site with a couple at -6oC (the ground frost minimum was -9.2oC). The spring will tell, but
I expect we will have some bacterial blast infection show up as a result of tissue damage from the frosts. We had difficulty hardening off our trees with a couple of reasonable rains in March and April keeping the trees going. There is again a large number of cherry trees coming into the district for new blocks and tree supply over the next couple of years appears to be well committed. Then there is the sale and aggregation of a number of blocks on top of noises of about 100 and 200ha blocks being planned. Interesting times! The guys planting 10,000 trees of the new apricot selections may be the smart players. Additional plantings are starting to place some stress on parts of our infrastructure. The key issue will be continuing to attract seasonal staff and accommodating these people. Freedom camping problems are already being grappled with by the district council and growers. The packhouses can be built, orchard managers found, and trucks put on the road, but the same target for all growersâ€™ remains the same â€“ consistently large, crunchy, sweet cherries with good stems. Meet this and we can command some space in the market against the 120,000+ tonne of fruit coming out of Chile. Not forgetting of course that the Chileans are planting in excess of 2,000ha a year. I guess that by the time the next edition of the magazine appears that we will be back into the spring rush. Watching the weather closely for frosts and wondering again what the season will deliver. In the meantime, I have had my curling stones cut and polished and I am wishing for enough ice for a Bonspiel!
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Published on Jul 31, 2017