Feb 21, 2018
IFTA views New Zealand amid typhoon visit

The first week of the International Fruit Tree Association’s (IFTA) 2018 New Zealand Study Tour has offered visitors a peek at the country’s apple industry amid early harvest season and a visit from cyclone Gita.

While the impact of a downgraded Gita did cause extensive damage to some orchards and other agricultural properties in its path, IFTA’s tour was able to squeeze in several orchard visits in the Nelson area prior to and following its visit.

M A Orchards

Red Martin and Andy McGrath of M A Orchards in Timaru shared their Honeycrisp production methods. Established in 2012, the orchards are planted on orchards of 76 hectares. There are five orchards over a 10-kilometer area. One block is in organic transition.

The Honeycrisp are grown primarily on cg202 rootstock with some M9. Orchards are planted in tall spindle and V training systems.

Harvest is most likely to begin March 8.

Birdhurst Orchards

Host Anthony Heywood of Golden Bay Fruit explained how Birdhurst Orchards is an intergenerational orchard and packing business and a production partner of Golden Bay Fruit. The Birdhurst family has lived and farmed land in Motueka for three generations.

Brothers Kerry and Farran Wilkins established Birdhurst, managing the transition of 15 acres of tobacco and 48 head of cattle, to a thriving apple orchard and kiwifruit orchard business.

Birdhurst has 500 acres of intensive dwarf apple orchards, averaging 1,200 trees per acre. They also have 60 hectares of Zezpri Bold kiwifruit orchards.

Palmer Orchards

Ian Palmer is another ex-tobacco and kiwifruit farmer now focusing on apple production. The farm tour attendees viewed is one of Nelson, New Zealand’s, best producing orchards (pack yield and color) on Envy. Palmer is past chairman of the national growers’ association pipifruit New Zealand.

Wairepo Orchards

Simon and Matthew Easton said apples have been grown in Wairepo since the early 1990s. The orchard operation now includes six orchards in the Mariri coastal area and surrounding Moutere Valley areas.

Apple variety mix includes Cox’s Orange, Fuji, Braeburn, Royal Gala, Jazz, Pink Lady, Southern Rose, Envy and Koru. The tour stop focused on the operation’s CG and M9 rootstock comparisons.

Vailima Orchards

Vailima Orchards third-generation orchardists Richard and Susan Hoddy have three properties stretching across the Waimea Plains. Vailima has been a significant local leader in adopting new apple varieties and technology with their ability to execute some impressive detail that makes them a leader in the New Zealand industry.

With the single purpose of producing a consistent premium quality to meet the demands of an offshore market, Vailima Orchards also has extensive variety and rootstock evaluation programs. All-season use of platforms and multi-row sprayers has been a business practice for many years.

Waimea Nurseries

Host Bruno Simpson explained how Waimea Nurseries is a leading supplier of trees to New Zealand’s commercial growers of apples, pipifruit, stonefruit, citrus, hops kiwifruit, feijoas and olives.

Established in 1971 by Doug and Georgi Simpson, it is now owned by Georgi’s son, Michael and Angela Donaldson. The tradition is continuing into the fourth generation with their children now involved in the business.

Hoddy Fruit Co.

Andrew Kininmonth hosted the tour of the fourth-generation apple growers in the Nelson region, with Walter Hoddy planting his family’s first apple tree in 1915. Since then, each generation has carried on the tradition of growing premium quality apples.

Management of the orchard is now shared by Michael Hoddy and his son-in-law Andrew Kininmonth. A combination of youth and experience ensures the business legacy for generations to come. Hoddy Orchard is a founding partner in Energie Fruit Co.

The tour stop focused on an impressive comparison of 2-D and 3-D tree architectures and how the operation is developing young growers.

IFTA is shifting to the Hawke’s Bay Region for the remainder of the tour, including the IFTA annul conference on Feb. 26.

For more coverage of the tour, follow Fruit Growers News on Twitter at @FGNews, #IFTANZ

  • Gary Pullano, Managing Editor

Photo above: Andrew Kininmonth hosted the tour of Hoddy Fruit Co., a fourth-generation apple growers in the Nelson, New Zealand region. Photo: Gary Pullano

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