Ma¯nuka seedling of­fer hugely over-sub­scribed

Waipa Post - - The Country -

The of­fer of 1.8 mil­lion free ma¯nuka seedlings by Te Uru Ra¯kau (Forestry New Zealand) in part­ner­ship with Ma¯nuka Farm­ing New Zealand has proved hugely pop­u­lar with ap­pli­ca­tions to­tal­ing 5.2 mil­lion seedlings.

Ma¯nuka Farm­ing New Zealand (MFNZ) gen­eral man­ager Stephen Lee says they were over­whelmed by the huge in­ter­est for the seedlings. The ini­tia­tive con­trib­utes to the Gov­ern­ment’s One Bil­lion Trees Pro­gramme.

“We had 1.8 mil­lion ma¯nuka trees avail­able, which would cover about 1635 hectares in plant­ings across New Zealand. Within a week we had 70 ap­pli­ca­tions, to­tal­ing 3.6 mil­lion seedlings, and cov­er­ing around 2841 hectares.

“We now have a big huge task ahead of as­sess­ing po­ten­tial plan­ta­tions from North­land to Te Anau.”

Stephen said the first step is to as­sess the ap­pli­ca­tions, fol­lowed by a se­ries of site as­sess­ments to those se­lected based on size, suit­abil­ity for plant­ing, and avail­abil­ity of suitable ma¯nuka stock for that lo­ca­tion.

Te Uru Ra¯kau has con­tracted MFNZ to as­sess the suit­abil­ity of sites for ma¯ nuka to be planted this win­ter, and to or­gan­ise the de­liv­ery of seedlings to landown­ers. MFNZ can also help landown­ers in the es­tab­lish­ment of their ma¯nuka plan­ta­tions.

Al­though there was no max­i­mum limit on the size of po­ten­tial plan­ta­tion sites, ideally larger sites are more suitable as they pro­duce higher qual­ity ma¯nuka honey.

The largest land par­cel ap­pli­ca­tion was 480 hectares with the small­est at 0.5 hectares.

Stephen said a con­di­tion of the of­fer is landown­ers must be ready and com­mit­ted to plant­ing the ma¯nuka seedlings in 2018.

“Ideally the land is al­ready free of weeds and pests as this will en­able plant­ing to take place be­tween July and Septem­ber,” Stephen said.

Al­though the seedlings are free, landown­ers are re­quired to cover the costs of pack­ing and dis­patch­ing the seedlings from the nurs­ery, site prepa­ra­tion, in­clud­ing pest and weed con­trol, fenc­ing if re­quired, plant­ing costs and on­go­ing post-plant mon­i­tor­ing.

“MFNZ will be avail­able to pro­vide wrap-around ser­vices, in­clud­ing ad­vice, co-or­di­na­tion and man­age­ment of plant­ing to en­sure greater grow­ing suc­cess,” Stephen said.

“We have a large range of de­vel­oped, tested and tri­aled high per­for­mance ma¯nuka va­ri­eties de­signed and tai­lored for spe­cific re­gions, as well as eco-sourced va­ri­eties suitable for plant­ing at or near their source.”

Stephen said the fi­nal de­ci­sions on which landown­ers will be of­fered ma¯nuka will take a cou­ple of weeks.

Those that miss out will get the op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase high grade ma¯nuka seedlings for plant­ing in 2019. The sale sea­son for or­ders is now open and closes at the end of Au­gust.

Landown­ers not par­tic­i­pat­ing in this ini­tia­tive can ap­ply for fund­ing through MPI pro­grammes such as the Ero­sion Con­trol Fund­ing Pro­gramme.

MFNZ will also work with rel­e­vant coun­cils and gov­ern­ment agen­cies to help fa­cil­i­tate in­vest­ment that could be avail­able to landown­ers for plant­ing. Julie Collins, head of Te Uru Ra¯kau, says the of­fer 1.8 mil­lion ma¯nuka seedlings has been a huge suc­cess in iden­ti­fy­ing new plan­ta­tion po­ten­tial across New Zealand.

“We are thrilled with the strong in­ter­est by landown­ers keen to plant ma¯nuka,” says Julie.

“We now want to en­sure we all get the very best pos­si­ble out­comes, by en­sur­ing the right ma¯nuka seedlings are matched to the land. MFNZ has ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise in this area.”

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