ORCHARD NEWS FROM AUCKLAND AND THE FAR NORTH

Far and Mid-North Harvest

The last of the export fruit came off in the second week of January. On the whole, the fruit from the Far North packed out well for export – even into the latter stages of the season. Good tree health contributes to this, and even though the north had wind, it did not have the more devastating and shorter duration wind events that the Bay of Plenty suffered through the growing season.

Pruning Follow up

I have been thinking of cost effective and time efficient methods of painting the exposed limbs after a heavy prune for some time now. We experimented on our Far North orchard with a label rate of Surround, a sunscreen product applied through the airblast sprayer. After a bit of trial and error we found that applying it early in the morning with no wind, and the fan on the sprayer turned off, managed to achieve a very good result. It is important to protect newly exposed bark from the sun to avoid damage that can affect production.

A lot of growers are bringing in chip or mulch to their orchards, particularly to help with trees that are struggling for good health. The chip provides a nice areated medium for the roots to grow into, out of what could be a wet soil environment. Mulch also contributes to the organic levels in the soil and increases microbial activity in the soil.

Mid-North Fruit Staining

NZ Avocado has engaged a scientist from Lincoln University to look into the cause of fruit staining that plagues some properties in the Mid-North. The last two seasons have seen losses of up to 25% due to the mystery stain. There are a number of therories around, but none of them are proven. It starts showing up in January and seems to keep developing through the summer months. I was with the group on one Managawhai orchard and we found a few fruitlets showing up the stain. Normally at this time of year there is a lot more. One difference this year is that to date, the region has been a lot drier than other years, which may be contributing to the lower incidence. It is encouraging to see NZ Avocado doing something positive to assist growers in this region.

-John Emett, Grower Services Representative (BOP)

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