Storm-hit grow­ers watch out for each other

The Orchardist - - >>contents - By Wendy Lau­ren­son

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.

Mike Ea­gles (left) and Dave Alder­ton with cut back av­o­cado tree on East­wood or­chard.

Ground lit­ter after storm.

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