Storm-hit growers watch out for each other
Freshmax technical manager Dave Alderton, manages Eastwood Orchard, one of the worst hit near Whangarei. He says the Task Force Green team was great.
“Three teams were created for the mid-north storm recovery work with half a team dedicated to horticulture clean up. Four guys came in here and chain-sawed trees we had marked. They heaped the big wood and spread the small stuff. We also had immediate help from the Westpac Bank team with 12 people in here for 3.5 hours. Several orchards have ‘stag-horned' trees to enable them to re-grow and obviously that takes out three to four years of production. Most of the clean-up work around Whangarei is now done, but the longer term consequences of the storm are still unknown.”
“With the cooler wet weather, avocados around Whangarei are only just coming into maturity, so it's too soon to know the full impact of the storm on production. We also don't yet know how much of the new fruiting wood has been affected.”
Avocado grower Mike Eagles says in previous July storms, some trees on his orchard that seemed fine immediately afterwards, started to deteriorate about a year later. “It took a while to connect the dots and realise they sustained damage in the storm but it took that long to become apparent. So after this storm, I immediately injected all of my trees with phosphorous acid as a precaution against phytophthora infection. I also stag-horned anything that looked questionable. It's a hard emotional decision to make.”
Mike is immediate past chairman of the Rural Support Trust and says the avocado industry has learned from the mental health issues created by the Psa outbreak in kiwifruit.
“We have developed a self-care package for the avocado industry based on the framework of that set-up for kiwifruit. Obviously we're not comparing the scale of this to Psa, but the guidelines are a good thing to have in place for challenges that may come up in the future. Everyone's circumstances too are different and we never know what series of set-backs are compounding for someone. We're all watching out for each other and that feels healthy.”
Avocado growers around Whangarei have had the back-up of Task Force Green teams to clean up damage from the July storms, but the extent of crop and tree damage is still not known. “With the cooler wet weather, avocados around Whangarei are only just coming into maturity, so it’s too soon to know the full impact of the storm on production.