Rural Supplies
10 October 2019

Apples for Culverden

Ngāi Tahu Farming is working through a detailed planning process with the aim of establishing their first horticultural development in the Balmoral/Culverden district of North Canterbury. 

Their Culverden operation comprises just over 9,000 ha in pines and beef production, and the plans for a pipfruit orchard has now reached the point of ordering tree stocks for planting in 2021. Business  Development Manager Ben Giesen explains: “The initial concept came about because Ngāi Tahu has a significant bit of land in the Balmoral Forest in North Canterbury. For a number of years, we’ve been looking at what to do with that land, with a lot of it coming out of pine trees. What are the alternative land use options? We considered horticulture as one of those options and enlisted Plant and Food Research to help us understand the possible crop options and provide recommendations.”

Three years ago, Ngāi Tahu established a 2.5 ha trial orchard, having first completed the extensive work needed to bring former pine forest blocks into a state suitable for orcharding.

“We sourced some trees for the trial, mainly stonefruit, olives and nut trees,” says Ben. “The first year they did reasonably well. At the same time, we created the infrastructure such as water and wind protection needed to give the trees the best opportunity.Our view was to run this trial block in a  commercially-focussed way.”  The Ngāi Tahu team, which now included Orchard Manager John Blackadder, sought support and advice from Fruitfed Supplies and AgFirst consultants to expand their orcharding knowledge. “It’s outside our capabilities at this point, so we wanted to understand spray and fertiliser programmes, consider different irrigation and trellis systems, and then rate what we think will work.”

In year two, different tree varieties were planted and that’s when the focus turned to apples.“We planted a range of apple varieties, Envy, Jazz, Galaxy, Lady in Red and some berries. Last year, we monitored growth rates to get hard data about how these trees perform here. Growth rates varied from 600-800 mm with the majority between 700-800 mm. We got a good understanding that these trees are in the right conditions and performing well. So about four months ago we asked, can we turn this into a commercial viability? 

“Our Fruitfed Supplies Representative Rob Wards was one to say you need to secure plants for 2021 and 2022 because of the demand. It’s quite hard work, but we managed to secure about 40,000 trees for 2021 which will plant around 15 ha.” The decision on varieties to be grafted onto the M9 dwarf rootstock is still to be made following further data from the trial block this season. The assessment of inversion layer during frost events and the installation of an Orchard-Rite wind machine were the final pieces of the puzzle to counter the site’s biggest risks: wind and frosts.

Rob Wards explains: "We provided pest and disease prevention programmes plus the chemistry for the various trial crops, fertiliser and fertigation programmes and herbicide recommendations. Fruitfed Supplies has also supplied the wood and steel trellising structure, irrigation systems, a Cropliner sprayer and an Orchard-Rite wind machine for frost protection, plus varied equipment for harvest, etc."  

Ben says the size of the commercial orchard is also still being decided. “Apples are the prime focus at this point, but we’re not ruling out other options like stonefruit. We’ve talked with the likes of Turners & Growers and Heartland Group about pathways to market. It’s important to have a good fit for a business like ours when we don’t have the knowledge and infrastructure. There’s a lot of good knowledge out there with people like Fruitfed Supplies who help you grow these trees productively.” 

Ben adds: “It’s an exciting step for Ngāi Tahu Farming which includes dairy, beef and forestry assets. This ticks a lot of boxes in terms of a good alternative use of the land and income stream for
our business."

Click for more horticultural articles | Click to find your local Fruitfed Supplies team

7 October 2019

PGG Wrightson Livestock Update 4 October 2019

Peter Moore joins Mark Leishman on the daily report to discuss how the livestock market is tracking this spring. In particular sheep and beef markets are performing strongly thanks to  continuing high demand from overseas markets, especially Asia, providing farmers with good prices for meat.  
2019 Young Grower of the Year Jono Sutton
3 October 2019

Young Grower of the Year 2019 announced

Nelson’s Jono Sutton, 26, was announced as this year’s Young Grower of the Year at the awards dinner in Tauranga on Wednesday 2/10/2019

“This is one of horticulture’s highest achievements for a young person, so winning it is massive,” said Jono.

“Some of the past winners have gone on to do amazing things in horticulture, so to have my name next to theirs is overwhelming.”

HortNZ Chief Executive Mike Chapman said the Young Grower of the Year is important because it highlights horticulture as a vibrant career for young people. 

“Our $6 billion industry continues to grow in response to worldwide and domestic demand for fresh healthy food.  At the same time, our industry is responding to new requirements, particularly in the areas of freshwater, land use, food safety, and health and safety. 

“These areas offer young people many and varied career opportunities.  I am positive that all entrants in 2019’s Young Grower competition have benefited from the experience and will continue to grow and support horticulture.” 

Jono proved his impressive skills and knowledge throughout the competition. As the regiona­­­l Nelson finalist, he was up against six other contestants, from around New Zealand, in Tauranga this week.

Jono’s grandparents, who are berry and apple growers in Nelson, came to support him.

“It’s really great to have really genuine support where win or lose, they think you’re the best anyway,” says Jono. 

“They’ve been in the industry since the 80s, when they transferred from agriculture to horticulture with the help of my father. For them to be able to pass the baton on to me is a real blessing.” 

The annual Young Grower of the Year competition is run by Horticulture New Zealand. Fruitfed Supplies were Gold Sponsors for another year and are proud to be right behind passionate young talent that are driving the horticultural industry forward. Craig Trembath, Fruitfed Supplies Sales Manager presented the Young Fruit Grower of the Year Award last night, which was also awarded to Jono Sutton.

Wool News_September 2019_PFASs In Synthetic Carpet
2 October 2019

Wool News: PFASs in synthetic carpets further boosts sustainability of wool

Awareness of the potential health and environmental hazards associated with some chemicals used in commercial interiors is growing, further reinforcing the arguments for designers, manufacturers, and consumers to shift towards natural raw materials, such as wool.

Synthetic carpets may typically include a group of chemicals called perfluorinated or polyfluorinated alkyl substances, more commonly known as PFASs. While these are valued for their stain-repellent qualities, they are also known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they may never fully degrade in the environment. In some literature PFASs have been negatively associated with potential health problems in people.

Since the 1940s these ‘forever chemicals’ have been used in a wide range of products including carpets and furniture, as well as camping gear and non-stick cookware. They are now found in the air and water around the globe, as well as in the bodies of nearly everyone on earth.

As consumers and manufacturers become better educated regarding the possible negative characteristics of PFASs, we are likely to see a move away from synthetic carpets, and back towards wool.

Linking Both Ends of the Chain
2 October 2019

Wool News: New Wool Integrity declaration coming soon

PGG Wrightson’s Wool Integrity programme, established in 2015, currently has some 1200 grower members and approximately 30 international brand partners. It provides assurances to the international market place by addressing concerns around global issues such as animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Wool quality, traceability, health, safety and wellbeing, and social compliance are also encompassed within the Wool Integrity programme.

For participating growers, PGG Wrightson through our-in house wool export company Bloch & Behrens, uses this differentiated marketing to add value to your wool clip without adding cost.

To ensure we can more effectively meet the ever-growing demands of the international marketplace, we will shortly contact all existing and new Wool Integrity growers to complete an updated Wool Integrity declaration.

Wool News_September 2019_Maintaining Min VM Levels
2 October 2019

Wool News: Maintaining minimum Vegetable Matter levels

This pre-lamb shearing season, in both North and South Islands, vegetable matter (VM) contamination has noticeably increased. 

Several tests are performed on wool prior to sale. These use the core sample taken from each bale within a specific line or lot. They include measuring micron, yield, colour (except for merino), and VM, which is reported as a percentage of the weight of a greasy wool sample and is measured after the wool fibre has been dissolved, leaving any plant material. 

While a VM test between zero and 0.1 per cent is unlikely to attract any discount, as the percentage increases so do the discounts. This season many crossbred fleece lines, both full wool and second shear, have returned VM tests between 0.5 and 1.0 per cent, which negatively impacts pricing in an already difficult market. Fine wool clips, particularly from high country areas, traditionally carry higher VM readings due to the nature of the country grazed. However, because fine wool is generally processed via a worsted system, compared to the majority of crossbred types going through a woollen system, VM in fine wool can largely be removed during the carding, combing and gilling processes prior to spinning. 

However, removing as much VM as practically possible, in the wool shed, remains crucial. Good shed preparation ensures maximum market exposure.

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