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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.

Related Articles

Growing top tomatoes

01 October 2019

Juicy red tomatoes plucked straight from your vege patch are hard to beat. Store bought tomatoes never taste quite as good as those fully ripened and grown with love in the sun at home. 

Once the cold weather has passed and the soils have warmed up its time to plant tomatoes. Depending on what region you live in, tomato planting can start from September, and seedlings may be available as early as August in garden centres. However, it can be safer to wait for more settled weather, Labour weekend is known as the traditional tomato planting time in the north, and show week for the south of the country. 

When it comes to choosing your tomato seedlings, choose a variety that is suited to your cooking preferences. If you fancy delving into sauces, relishes and soups, choose varieties that have intense flavour and are heavy croppers. For those who enjoy eating tomatoes in salads and sandwiches go for the fleshy ones, which have less juice, or go for small and sweet cherry tomatoes if you simply like to eat yours plucked straight from the vine.

It is best practice not to plant your tomatoes in the same spot as last season, or in the same spot as potatoes were planted as diseases can remain in the soil and affect your new crop. Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter to your soil such as Tui Compost and Tui Blood & Bone. Both will increase microbial activity, encourage earthworms, and replenish your soil with nutrients used during previous growing seasons. The addition of Tui Blood & Bone to your garden also provides a natural source of nitrogen for healthy plant growth, and phosphorus for strong root development. You can then add a layer of Tui Tomato Mix, which is specially formulated with extra potassium to encourage a plentiful harvest of big juicy fruit. If you are planting in pots and containers use Tui Tomato Mix. 

If you are sowing tomatoes from seed, you will need to plan ahead to make sure they are grown enough to plant outside when you intend to. The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so your plants are not exposed to the hot sun straight away. When you plant your tomatoes, use stakes in the soil for each tomato plant before planting to provide support and avoid damaging the roots later.

Your plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients used by your tomatoes ensures they will grow to their full potential. For tomatoes planted in garden beds feed with Tui Tomato Food every four weeks during key growth periods of spring and summer. Tui Tomato Food is a blend of nitrogen, phosphorus and a generous amount of potassium formulated to promote the growth and fruiting potential of all types of tomatoes. For tomatoes in pots and containers use an all-purpose controlled release fertiliser. 

For more information about the Tui range, pop into your local PGG Wrightson store.

As your tomatoes grow, follow these key tips to make the most from your crop:

  • Remove the laterals to encourage bigger and better fruit. Laterals are the shoots that grow out from the side of the stem. 

  • Keep the birds from beating you to your crop, cover plants with netting to protect them. 

  • Keep your tomatoes watered. Healthy, fertilised tomatoes will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.


Supplied by Tui

Apples for Culverden

10 October 2019

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

Late spring planting and summer entertaining

01 November 2019

The warmer months are an exciting time in the garden as your spring planting efforts come to life, There is also plenty of summer sun loving crops to plant and it's the perfect time to get your garden into shape for summer BBQs and backyard entertaining. 

By now your spring planting should be coming to fruition and you can enjoy bountiful harvests of homegrown vegetables. Harvesting your vegetables regularly helps promote more growth throughout the season. Crops that flower and then fruit will continuously fruit throughout the summer season if you keep up with harvesting and watering.

There is still plenty to plant at this time of year, so you can continue harvesting delicious homegrown ingredients for your favourite summer meals. Pizzas are a great option for feeding family and friends over the summer entertaining months. Plant tomatoes and a variety of herbs and you'll have tasty, fresh pizza toppings. Top tomato varieties for pizza include Money Maker (reliable and flavoursome), Beefsteak (large and tasty), Grosse Lisse (full of flavour) and Sweet 100 (small and sweet). 
Flavoursome herbs include parsley, thyme, oregano and basil. Rosemary can also be chopped finely and added into pizza dough for extra flavour. Herbs will provide the perfect finishing touch to your homemade pizzas. If you're planting your tomatoes in the garden or in pots and containers, add a layer of Tui Tomato Mix, which is specifically formulated with extra potassium to encourage a bumper crop of big juicy fruit. Plant your herbs in a spot close to your kitchen so they are easily accessible, and add a layer of Tui Herb Mix, rich in nitrogen to promote green, leafy growth and continuous harvesting.

If summer BBQs are your go-to, plant salad greens such as mesclun, spinach, lettuce, rocket and spring onions for fresh ingredients at your fingertips. Other vegetables and herbs you might want to add to your summer dishes include radish, cucumber, tomatoes, sweetcorn, basil, coriander, parsley, radish and mint. Before planting dig in organic matter to your soil such as Tui Compost to replenish nutrients used by previous crops. Compost is also an excellent water saver, it improves the soil by increasing moisture holding capacity, particularly in sandy soils. You can then add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix, formulated with the right blend of nutrients to provide your vegetables with the best possible start and sustained growth throughout the season.

Add some vibrancy to your backyard space with some luscious green foliage and pops of colour. For greenery plant Chatham Island Nikau Palms, New Zealand's only native palm tree. They are fast growing, tolerate the wind, dry summers and poor soils. Gardenia and Hibiscus will bring a relaxed tropical feel to your garden. They both make excellent container plants, choose a large container and plant with Tui All Purpose Potting Mix, specially formulated to give the best start to your indoor and outdoor plants in pots, containers and hanging baskets.

Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients used by your plants ensures they will grow to their full potential. Feed your plants with a suitable fertiliser during key growth periods and remember to water your plants in the morning or evening to avoid water evaporation. A good deep soak every few days is better than shallow watering every day as it helps plants to better survive short term drought.

For more information, pop into your local PGG Wrightson store.


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