Kia ora, welcome to our Avocado Quarterly Newsletter

eNews Avocado 2nd Quarter, June 2023

Carol Palmer
TAGL Director

Achieving econonically sustainable orchards

At the time of writing this, we have recorded over 2.2 metres of rain on our orchard since the beginning of the year. As we slosh through the orchard, we are grateful we have a slope that allows the water to drain away, however, this means the mulch I had spent days/weeks raking around the trees is now on our neighbors’ orchard. Fortunately, we haven’t lost any trees through the rain (at this stage).

I have been reflecting on the significant drop in returns since we purchased the orchard. In speaking to other growers’, we clearly share the same concerns: how do we lift the returns to ensure our orchards are economically sustainable? Coming off the back of a couple of tough years financially with very low returns and now with changing weather patterns, we are further impacted by international competition in supply increasing, with the inevitable detrimental impact on returns. Avocado orcharding is proving to be very challenging.

The key to achieving economically sustainable orchards is to produce quality fruit – and we know this starts on the orchard with high-quality orchard management, and a focus on inputs. If we are producing quality fruit in a cost-effective manner, we can expect our marketers to play their part in effectively marketing our fruit to the highest level.

Top of mind is leafroller and the risk of rejection by our key export market if we do not effectively manage leafroller on the orchard prior to picking. The current challenges with leafroller reinforces the importance of focusing on quality by everyone, from the grower to the pickers/packers and the exporters. To me, the solution is really easy; monitor and spray pre-harvest-this is one of the input costs we simply cannot compromise on.

We must all play our part in ensuring a quality focus throughout the supply chain. So, it is reasonable to expect packhouses to contract all export growers to do the right thing and adopt an approach of monitoring and spraying prior to harvest. The cost of not doing so could be catastrophic, not only to the individual grower but for the entire New Zealand avocado industry.


Daniel Birnie
Avocado Manager

Operations update

As part of my operations update, I thought I would share some of the work in progress here at Trevelyan’s.

Once a fortnight, we have a group that meets for an hour to discuss avocado fruit quality- this group includes grower services, technical, engineering, quality, and senior management. Margarita (Rita) Khabitueva, our postharvest technical specialist (across both kiwifruit and avocados), leads the group and has summarised some of the initiatives underway.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask your grower representative.

Trevelyan’s Research – Margarita (Rita) Khabitueva



We have also summarised the initiatives AVOCO have underway, please see the AVOCO Research projects below.

Katherine Bell
Grower Liaison Representative

Discussion group commentary

Over the past couple of months, we have hosted and attended a number of Field Days, grower meetings and online webinars.

Some interesting points that arose from these discussions are listed below:

  • The NZ Avocado Fertiliser Webinar
    • Freshwater farm plans will be phased into each region starting in the Waikato region on the 1st of August. Regional councils will be responsible for the auditors.
    • If you have 5 hectares or more of horticultural land or 20 hectares or more of combined- use land you will be required to have a freshwater farm plan.
    • Once phased in, growers have 18 months to prepare their plan. The growers will be audited 12 months after the initial certification. After that is completed, the recertification happens every five years (or after changes to land use or risks)
    • The freshwater farms plan cost will be charged directly from the council auditor to the grower.
  • NZ Avocado Fertiliser Field Days
    • How to calculate your total nitrogen use, and the difference in nitrogen content between different fertilisers. This is important for growers to understand when the total units of nitrogen used will be limited.
    • The importance of carbon in soil. Carbon improves soil aeration, water drainage and retention, and reduces the risk of nutrient leaching.
    • The significance of fungi in soil, specifically mycelium, and their role in helping avocado roots uptake nutrients.

We are considering running another set of discussion groups in August on tree health and spraying. If you have any topics you’re interested in or if you would like to host these meetings on your orchard, please let your grower representative know.


Jonathan Cutting
Avocado Technical Manager

Thoughts and messages from the World Avocado Congress

The World Avocado Conference is held once every four years and is a great opportunity to understand the high-level global drivers of avocado production.  So much of the global expansion in avocado production in the last 30 years has been driven by exports, rather than internal consumption.  It was great to hear from Cathy Burns that fresh produce, especially avocado, still has a great future. While most of the conference was indeed devoted to technical and production issues, the global supply situation was always present. Two other interesting key themes, were sustainable production and high-density orchard management, both technical.

The global supply situation

The scene was set by the Eric Imbert presentation, (online) looking at long- term consumption trends in the major markets and then considering the trends of global supply, particularly the impact of South America. Consumption markets have crystalized around:

  • North America, which is growing.
  • Europe (as a global market) is slowly growing and very sensitive to over-supply.
  • Asia is static, and some markets are even contracting.

After 30 years of rapid production growth, we appear to be reaching global saturation where demand and supply are matched. However, the amount of new plantings, particularly in Central and South America and Africa are worrying. A great deal of these new plantings have yet to income into full production and could lead to periods of significant over-supply and price collapse in some markets, particularly Asia and some parts of Europe. With the growth of a 12-month supply, the opportunities to exploit “shoulder” seasons are shrinking. Peru, Columbia, Mexico, Morocco, Israel and Kenya are countries aggressively planting at the moment and are likely to have a significant influence on the global market. Eric Imbert concludes that the global markets, particularly Europe and Asia will be difficult over the next five to eight years before settling down into something more stable. The message is that there may be some headwinds for us in Asia, especially considering our quality risks.


Sustainability was the core theme of many of the conference presentations and was encompassed in the respect for environment, as a major part of the conference theme. Several of the keynote addresses either focused or touched on sustainability. The concept of sustainability is very broad, and what became clear during the conference was the focus that individuals put on their part of the sustainability continuum was often siloed. There was a loss of focus in this area and some of the messaging became quite confusing. All up, there were more than 15 papers that fitted into the sustainability space.

Avocados are probably well suited to fit into the list of permanent tree crops suited to sustainability or regenerative principles.  At a very high-level Brent Clothier gave a great talk around climate change and global sustainability and touched on the very high level of inputs (unsustainable?) needed to produce all foods and the need for change. Obviously, there was a powerful theme around carbon.   Interestingly, at our current rates of raw material extraction the world needs to be 1.5 times bigger just to remain in a neutral position.  This is not sustainable.

Several talks focused on “soil health” and my one takeaway message was that the key driver to soil health was macro porosity and soil oxygenation, which was very topical considering the avocado root system and the lack of root hairs. Achieving high soil oxygen is much harder than it sounds, and this emerged in casual conversation with the presenter over coffee. This is no doubt further confounded by our rainfall pattern in the past 18 months.

Irrigation efficiency received plenty of attention, but perhaps that reflects that so much of the global production is based in Mediterranean, desert or semi-desert climates. and under these dry environmental conditions the avocado does have a large water footprint. Most of the talks focused on irrigation scheduling, water quality and water management, thereby reducing water use.

There was a fascinating presentation on integrated soil mapping and soil characterisation to determine soil potential, which will be useful in  reducing  the number of “marginal” orchards in New Zealand.

A number of companies had trade stalls and key technical staff at the conference. There were several new “products” in the in the plant nutrition and plant health space and these were being actively promoted. I was concerned that more and more, we are encouraged to look for a solution in a container or bag, rather than understanding crop management and manipulation. I am uncertain as to how more chemicals in containers helps us with our sustainability journey.

There needed to be more new information in the pesticide reduction space which is concerning as we continue to lose whole pesticide classes.

Key areas that will come under scrutiny as we advance are:

  • Pesticide discharges to air
  • Freshwater takes
  • Freshwater restoration `
  • Fertiliser use and eutrophication
  • Plant and insect bio-diversity
  • Native habitats
  • Land use planning and land use change legislation
  • Soil health (particularly carbon retention) and soil conservation
  • Energy use and carbon footprints
  • Emissions
  • Organic waste pollution

What is clear is there is a wave of regulation, driven by bureaucrats, coming – ostensibly to help us meet our environmental sustainability ‘responsibilities’. My takeaway message is that there is plenty that we can do in the sustainability space, but we do need to do it, and take a leadership/ownership role.  Otherwise, we won’t be managing, leading and directing this activity at all but rather being handed a raft of regulations we simply need to comply with (which may not always be affordable or practical).  One of the presentations at the conference said that wealthy urban consumers would play a leading role in driving this sustainability push.

Undoubtedly, orcharding will change rapidly going forward, and this may require strategies to integrate sustainability concepts into existing orchards. We have some really interesting choices about whether we want to be “road-blocks” or “road-ways”. We all know what happens to “road-blocks” ……  We can and should make a start with biodiversity, soil health and fresh water. 

Managing high-density orchards

This was a very strong theme throughout the Congress. Francisco Mena from Chile made the defining comment that the debate is no longer about which is better, small high-density or big free-standing trees, as that’s been answered – rather, the question is how we manage small high-density orchards. There were plenty of presentations on high-density management across a range of countries.  There appear to be a number of high- density plantings in South Africa on wires. One of the more interesting talks was by Claudia Hermosilla from New Zealand and their experiences with staghorning trees.  Their best outcomes were when trees were staghorned below knee height regarding ongoing tree management. She had data to back up this view and my personal view, based largely on anecdotal observation, is that she is right and that lollipop staghorning gives us very poor outcomes.

Plant spacing, pruning systems and pruning times were covered in a number of talks. There was no real consensus on an “ideal” tree spacing with, some researchers and orchard managers favouring higher -density and simpler structures and others favouring more complex trees and slighter lower tree numbers per ha. However, some key themes that did emerge from the high-density presentations were:

  • Lower production costs compared to large trees
  • Regularity of cropping
  • Ability to exploit steeper land
  • Uniformity of orchards
  • Simpler tree structures
  • Improved quality
  • Orchard outcome predictability

I was particularly interested in these sessions as I have my own “high-density” orchard and a number of our growers are moving in this direction. But it did make me think about how quickly avocado orchard systems have evolved. I attended workshops at the First and Second World Avocado conferences in South Africa (1987) and California (1991) on the question of orchard design, tree spacing and light interception. The conclusion at the workshops of these two early conferences, 35 years and 31 years ago respectively, was to “plant high-density (nominally 5X5 meters) and thin with courage”. Now we have a significant portion of global productions (more than 70%?) in high density, small tree, heavily pruned orchards.

I can also understand many of our growers’ negative view around the “high-density” approach. Many of our orchards, are less than 2 hectares in size and most growers cannot afford to re-tool. Why do we have so many “early adopters” in the rest of the avocado world and so few in New Zealand? Could it be that we have very few multigenerational growers in New Zealand and the key driver for a large number of growers is the shorter term farming of capital growth. Economic reality can be a very cruel teacher and there is no question that we are in a period of industry adjustment. The last three seasons tell us that our historical “high cost – high orchard gate value” avocado model is under attack, and at this stage there is no light at the end of this tunnel. Something has to change…..

In closing

The conference was, as expected, a great experience. There is a global vibrancy in the avocado world. As Lain Jaeger pointed out, avocados are a fantastic offering and very well suited to the modern diet and most cuisines. There is a reason it’s the number 2 or 3 produce category by value in countries like the USA and Australia. It fits in with the plant-based food and vegan diet culture so prevalent worldwide.

There are some volume clouds ahead as we deal with the global industry’s demand-led success and the resultant new plantings. Our orchards will look very different in 20 years’ time as we adopt newer technologies and become ecologically sustainable. The future for avocados does look good, but there will be lots of change…. and this is a wonderful and exciting opportunity. We should never forget that the future is all about change.


Laura Schultz
Grower Liaison Representative

Orchard update

As I write this it is the shortest day of the year and we’re yet to have a serious frost. However, at the Marshalls orchard we are prepared with frost covers put on the new plantings.

Over the past few months, we have continued the battle with leafroller and thrips and, in an effort to produce the cleanest crop possible for the season, we have used both Dew 600 sprays for the season along with a few calypso sprays. In May, we still had some leafroller present and six spotted mite levels were increasing, so we applied a proclaim with an avid.

The orchard has good shelter on most boundaries apart from a small piece on the northeastern boundary where the trees are noticeably smaller.  Not a pair you will see sitting still, Wendy and Lindsay have planted the boundary with Casuarinas to provide more shelter to those trees.

The team have also completed soil and leaf tests on all our managed orchards and Jonathan is working on getting those fertiliser recommendations ready for spring.

Zara Marra
Local Market Manager

Domestic market update

  • The domestic market finished the 2022/2023 season with a 2.9 million tray equivalent (TE).
  • Demand outweighed supply towards the end of the season, bringing upwards pressure and a great result on returns.
  • The strong finish to the last season created a stronger urgency in clearance testing, resulting in large volumes and early downward pressure.
  • The 2023/24 Industry forecast is 2.6 million TE’s

The graph below compares the last two seasons’ industry volumes against BayFarms returns.


Class 2 returns per tray for the  January – April period.





Sarah Lei
Head of Sustainability

Making a meaningful impact with sustainability

 When we look to make a difference through our sustainability efforts, we quickly realise that we can’t achieve a meaningful impact without working closely with our supply chain partners. This is especially true when we look to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.

A quick look at the Trevelyan’s value chain shows our numerous interactions across a wide range of stakeholders. Over the last few years, we have been working more closely with our suppliers, contractors and services providers to help develop better waste management systems.

  1. A significant amount of the waste we generate on-site is produced by packaging (that comes around the packaging we use) and consumables, such as masks and hairnets. The process we follow to improve our systems for managing waste are as follows:
  2. We develop high-level policies and procedures to promote sustainable behaviours e.g. Supplier Code of Conduct, Terms and Conditions for Contractors.
  3. We connect with our suppliers through reciprocal site visits to better understand each other’s processes and challenges.
  4. We look at the specific waste streams that we generate on our site and talk to our suppliers and contractors about how we can better manage the waste streams generated by their activities and the products they supply us.
  5. We develop and refine our processes to incorporate the outcomes we have agreed on.
  6. We check to ensure that the processes are being followed and share the results of our monitoring to help improve the outcomes.

Some of our suppliers- and the associated materials that we recycled in 2022 – are as follows:

  • Altiora – damaged plixes and used plix bags (481kg)
  • Hawk – black shrink wrap (137kg)
  • Baydirect – hairnets, masks and soft plastics (1,430kg)
  • OJI – cardboard and paper (264,865kg), clear shrink wrap (11,650kg), cardboard trim and box-maker waste (new in 2023)
  • VisionLab – IT waste

Using this system has helped us develop a shared vision with our supply chain partners, reduced the amount of material going to landfill and provided opportunities for further improvements in the future.


Mark Yortt- Sunchaser Avocado Orchard 

Last month, Mark Yortt, co-owner of Sunchaser Avocados, became a Trevelyan’s and BayFarms avocado supplying grower.

Mark, a Bay of Plenty local, has an extensive chemical, horticultural and agricultural background which commenced after graduating from Lincoln University in 1972 but for him, the ‘dipping your toe’ into the industry all began in 1979 when he first planted kiwifruit and avocados in Katikati. Quickly it progressed to more avocado and kiwifruit orchards and a large post-harvest facility, which was later sold to Seeka.

In 2004, a unique and exciting opportunity was presented to Mark and his partners – an exceptional orchard – located on Motiti Island, 12 km off the Papamoa coast. A frost-free microclimate, offering an annual rainfall of 1150mm to 1300mm and with highly fertile, free draining soils- all attributes for potential high-quality, high-volume, and early-maturing crops. The cherry on the top was the quarantine buffer from disease… the orchard, being located on Motiti Island – more than a short drive away!

The orchard, named Sunchaser – a name derivative from other family-owned businesses, had its challenges. Mark and his partners approached all these challenges with systematic due diligence. What are the logistics surrounding the operation of an orchard located on an island? How soon can we be self-sufficient/efficient? The team is pivotal. A significant purchase was an Australian barge – a vessel that had serviced the Whitsundays; the second was an airstrip. Fast forward to 2023, and the island has over 10,000 avocado trees covering approximately 105 canopy hectares and, due to the microclimate, is one of the first in the country to be harvested, by the team of up to 25 who live there during the harvest period. Intentionally, the fruit is destined for the local market because it matures very early and suits the orchard’s cultural regime. Most importantly for Mark, there is no conflict between last year’s crop, which is fully harvested before flowering, and the tree preparing for the new crop.

Mark believes that avocados have fallen victim to weather issues in recent years, and growers have been deeply impacted by inconsistent production and diminishing returns. Promotion from the marketplace also needs to be coordinated and expanded, endorsing the quality and health attributes of the product. Mark believes that New Zealanders seek a quality product, especially one with such nutritional value, and are more than willing to pay a fair price.

Mark is also keenly aware that good orchard practices, such as regular AvoGreen monitoring, a meticulous spray programme (he owns Grosafe Chemicals), and methodical pruning, flowering and pollination, maximise the opportunity for more consistent production. The expertise and support Mark receives from Jonathan Cutting, Trevelyan’s Avocado Technical Manager on these topics is instrumental.” Get on the phone and call Jonathan” is the first advice he would give to anyone with an underperforming avocado orchard or looking for a career change into the sector. Each orchard is unique, and numerous factors must be considered and investigated with the right expertise to produce quality avocados. Equally, who you partner with as an ‘extension’ of your business is also an important consideration. Mark has watched the huge growth Trevelyan’s have made under the careful guidance and stewardship of James Trevelyan. “I have a lot of respect for James, and he’s done a brilliant job putting an extremely good business together, at the same time managing to maintain family values”.

Success for Mark lies in his well-crafted, loyal and stable team. They are all smart, passionate, and eclectic and have deep respect for one another. Key members of his team are Greg and Lynne Prince, the Orchard Manager and Administrator respectively, and Ben Poff, the barge skipper.

Is he ready to turn over the reins as he celebrates his 74th birthday in a few weeks? Not a chance! Laced with energy, and an eye for the future, Mark retains a passion for the primary sector and has no plans to reduce his workload.


To learn more about Marks fascinating career, please visit our website.


Josie Allen-Gordon
GAP Auditor

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’m married to Dan and have two children and one grandson. We came to live in Tauranga in 1995 when we became franchise owners of the YHA hostel in Elizabeth St (now the men’s shelter).

Prior to becoming involved in horticulture, I was a registered nurse with experience in various fields – surgical, Plunket, phlebotomy, and elderly care.

In 2012 I left nursing and embarked on a new learning journey, completing a Certificate in Business Administration and a NZ Business Management Diploma L6, which eventually led me to complete a Certificate in Horticulture Level 2 and Level 4 at Toi Ohomai. I also completed a Certificate in Fruit Production L4 while at Trevelyan’s.

What attracted you to working at Trevelyan’s/ or what do you enjoy about working at Trevelyan’s?

I decided to accept a seasonal role as a Reject Analysis Supervisor, as I was impressed with the person who interviewed me, Chris Draffin. The other thing that attracted me to work at Trevelyan’s was their reputation as a family- orientated business and that training was one of their key values.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I have held various positions within the Quality Team. I started in March 2016 as a Reject Analysis Supervisor and soon after became a Grading Supervisor leading me to hold the position of Grading Supervisor Mentor in 2018. I was also involved in organising pre-season grader training from 2017 till 2022.

In 2016 following the main pack season, I was offered the opportunity to become a GAP Auditor for avocados and kiwifruit, which is now my full-time position.

GAP auditing involves inspecting growers to ensure they meet the compliance requirements needed to harvest and pack their product. Compliance has increased over the time since being a GAP auditor, so my learning journey continues.

When you’re not at work what do you like to do?

Not much – the ageing process has started to hit home!  However, I enjoy spending time with my family doing fun outings, going out for meals, playing with our dog Copper, and reading.




Pritpal Kaur
Packhouse Quality Lead/GAP Auditor/Quality & Compliance


Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am from Punjab which is the North side of India. I have completed a degree in Economics. I came to New Zealand in early 2009. I live in Papamoa, with my two boys who are 12 and 15 years old, my husband and my mother-in-law. I started working at Trevelyan’s in 2009 as a grader on night shift. While working at Trevelyan’s I completed a National Certificate Level 4 and Certificate in Post-Harvest Level 4. I have held various roles in the Quality Team . I was chosen as a GAP trainee in 2018.

What attracted you to working at Trevelyan’s/ or what do you enjoy about working at Trevelyan’s?

Teamwork…. The teams I have worked with are amazing, whether it’s the  Quality Team or a GAP Team, they are always very helpful. I enjoy auditing growers for kiwifruit and avocado and completing the GAP requirements. The interesting thing for me is, learning from each grower about how they grow their crops differently from each other.

 What is your role and what does it involve?

I have worked at Trevelyan’s in various roles; I started  as a grader, then in reject analysis, as a tray checker, a trainee quality controller, a quality controller and mentor for the Class 2 department and then became a GAP auditor in 2019.

During the main harvest season, I work the night shift as a Packhouse Quality Lead, to ensure the staff follow the BRC rules and that the quality department is fully trained, and their paperwork is correct. I also complete audits to ensure the correct procedures were followed. I am there to support anyone who needs help in each department.

Outside of Trevelyan’s, I enjoy working with my husband completing orchard work.

When you’re not at work what do you like to do?

I have a few interests. I enjoy spending most of my spare time with my kids visiting new places, playing soccer and basketball with them, especially with my youngest son. When I’m not busy with my family, I enjoy listening to music.