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 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.