Shar­ing ideas across the in­dus­try

Grower field days are fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­ni­ties for us as a team to share tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion and vi­tal in­dus­try up­dates, and to en­gage with our grow­ers.

The Orchardist - - Contents - By Jen Scoular, chief ex­ec­u­tive, NZ Av­o­cado

The NZ Av­o­cado spring field days in North­land were held on Au­gust 30 in the Far North and Septem­ber 1 in Whangarei. King Av­o­cado, cur­rently the in­dus­try’s largest pro­duc­ing or­chard, hosted grow­ers and in­dus­try part­ners for the morn­ing to dis­cuss ir­ri­ga­tion, and how they man­age ir­ri­ga­tion of their 100 hectares of pro­duc­tive trees across more than 70 blocks. Their or­chard man­ager Clau­dia Her­mosilla led a dis­cus­sion about their or­chard ap­proach to ir­ri­ga­tion an­swer­ing many ques­tions from the au­di­ence. The Whangarei field day, held at Jeni and Grant Har­ring­ton’s or­chard, saw a great turnout. Jeni and Grant both spoke about the his­tory of their or­chard, and what they have been try­ing to achieve since they took it over a few years ago.

The Har­ring­ton’s are part of the NZ Av­o­cado Whangarei based tree de­cline work­ing group, and have re­cently had elec­tro­mag­netic sur­vey­ing of their or­chard com­pleted. The re­sults were pre­sented to grow­ers en­abling a dis­cus­sion about how this tech­nol­ogy might help in­form soil mois­ture man­age­ment de­ci­sions. This field day also al­lowed an op­por­tu­nity for the re­search team to show­case the weather sta­tion sit­u­ated on the or­chard. Es­tab­lished as part of the tree de­cline work­ing group’s at­tempts to bet­ter un­der­stand soil mois­ture mon­i­tor­ing; Jeni and Grant dis­cussed how they are us­ing the in­for­ma­tion com­ing through from the sta­tion and the ben­e­fits they an­tic­i­pate com­ing from it dur­ing ir­ri­ga­tion sea­son.

The first of the Bay of Plenty field days, hosted in con­junc­tion with Seeka, was held on what felt like the only sunny day in Septem­ber.We saw over 100 grow­ers join us on Omoko­roa grower Russell Heys’ or­chard. It was in­ter­est­ing to learn about the his­tory of Russell’s or­chard, his ex­pe­ri­ences through­out the years of av­o­cado grow­ing and his ap­proach to or­chard man­age­ment. At­ten­dees had the op­por­tu­nity to hear from David Pat­te­more, Plant & Food Re­search’s lead sci­en­tist on the cross-in­dus­try “Bee Mi­nus to Bee Plus and Beyond” project fo­cused on smarter and more sus­tain­able pol­li­na­tion strate­gies, and Dr Jonathan Dixon speak­ing about av­o­cado flow­er­ing.

Grow­ers en­joy the abil­ity to talk about their own or­chards with other grow­ers, while hear­ing from a fel­low grow­ers as to what they have done that has re­sulted in the or­chard per­form­ing as it does. We sup­ply good bench­mark­ing data of each field day or­chard so it is clear the re­sults be­ing de­liv­ered from the cur­rent prac­tises.

Con­tin­u­ing with how we share in­for­ma­tion to grow­ers, we also hold an an­nual grower fo­rum in the Bay and in North­land. Th­ese are great plat­forms to share de­tail of the ac­tiv­i­ties we un­der­take for grow­ers. Av­o­cado grow­ers con­trib­ute through a com­mod­ity levy, an ex­port sys­tems fee and regis­tra­tion which NZ Av­o­cado in­vest to de­liver re­search, pro­vide sys­tems and de­velop and main­tain mar­kets. The grower fo­rum pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to show­case that de­liv­ery, and to seek feed­back from grow­ers about what they would like to see us in­vest in go­ing for­ward.

I pre­sented an in­dus­try up­date which out­lined some of the amaz­ing ac­tiv­ity, done right across the in­dus­try, that helped push a record value of over $200m last sea­son. We heard from Count­down and Food­stuffs about the av­o­cado pro­mo­tion and in­no­va­tion of avo­ca­dos in their busi­nesses. We are very pleased to hear that avo­ca­dos are very valu­able to re­tail­ers, and they are al­ways look­ing for new ways to add value to our cat­e­gory.

The re­search ses­sions at the grower fo­rum saw Dr Kerry Everett from Plant & Food Re­search de­liver a talk about her work de­vel­op­ing a ‘rot pre­dic­tion tool’ for the av­o­cado in­dus­try, af­ter she had just re­ceived the NZ Av­o­cado “Ser­vice to the In­dus­try Award” mak­ing her pre­sen­ta­tion even more timely. Marisa Till, NZ Av­o­cado’s re­search man­ager, gave an over­view of the cur­rent re­search projects and how they are de­liv­er­ing value to grow­ers.

John Wiess­ing, a Whangarei grower, spoke about his ex­pe­ri­ence as part of the tech­ni­cal work­ing group. This is a group of sci­en­tists, NZ Av­o­cado staff and mem­bers of the in­dus­try that are tasked with en­sur­ing the re­search is rel­e­vant, on-track and de­liv­ers back to grow­ers in a prac­ti­cal way.

The re­search team fa­cil­i­tated a work­shop where grow­ers were able to feed­back on the projects that were un­der­way, where the re­search pri­or­i­ties should lie go­ing for­ward and how they want the re­sults de­liv­ered. Be­van Jel­ley, NZ Av­o­cado’s mar­ket man­ager and Mike Swan, South­ern Pro­duce, cov­ered off our New Zealand av­o­cado story be­ing shared and the ac­tiv­ity be­ing un­der­taken within the New Zealand mar­ket. Alis­tair Young, Avoco, joined Be­van to talk about the in­no­va­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion story tak­ing place in the ex­port mar­kets.

We re­cently pub­lished the sec­ond edi­tion of the NZ Av­o­cado re­search bul­letin which pro­vides a snap­shot of the ex­cit­ing re­sults emerg­ing from our re­search port­fo­lio. It de­liv­ers to both our grow­ers and other in­dus­try stake­hold­ers the op­por­tu­nity to con­trib­ute to the on­go­ing work in the aim to max­imise the im­pact our pro­gramme has for our in­dus­try.

Grower field days are ideal op­por­tu­ni­ties to share tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion and vi­tal in­dus­try up­dates.

Jen Scoular

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