Kia ora, welcome to our Kiwifruit Newsletter

eNews Kiwifruit June 2023 Edition

James Trevelyan
Managing Director

It must be time for a bigger insurance program?

At the time of writing, we still have one last crop to harvest, which is proving to be a challenge to get across the line. This crop has not been alone, having suffered the effects of the wet summer and cool spring. I am sure we will get there this coming week and switch on the mysterious box known as the NIR machine. On the other hand, it could just be highlighting how complex fruit physiology is.

Now that harvest has finished, I have had more time to take a closer look at some of the results from various orchards, starting with our home block. The home block is G3 Organic, with a hail net over the top. Prior to this year, the average number of trays/hectare was 15,600. This year’s production from the 5-hectare block was 9,800 trays/hectare, a 38% reduction. While a decrease in production this year has not been uncommon, there is, however, another organic block – not too far from my home block – that has produced 16,045 trays/hectare and a conventional block that has produced 22,027 trays/hectare.

As I endeavour to work through the reasons for the discrepancy, rain falls outside. This winter, I plan to build a better insurance program, i.e. add more winter buds and stick to the ABCs of winter pruning. Knowing that if I have too many flower buds in spring, I must reduce numbers to avoid high volumes of small fruit with low taste at harvest. In many cases, it has been hard on the orchards this year, and equally hard in the postharvest sector as we endeavour to balance our books on such low volumes.

John Lewitt
Head of Operations and Logistics

The season so far and our focus going forward

Our 2023 packing season is now all but finished. We have completed packing our fruit for this season, including all Bin Store and Controlled Atmosphere fruit. As you can see in the table below, we have ended the season with 14.6 million tray equivalents packed in total; this is well down on our initial estimate of over 18 million tray equivalents and well down on 2022 volumes, where we packed 17.2 million tray equivalents across all varieties and grow methods.

Several environmental factors influenced this large reduction in volume. A poor bud-break in Spring was followed by an unseasonal heavy frost in October; cyclones caused widespread floods in February, and finally, a significant hail event in April.

Our attention now turns to the shipping season and ensuring we manage the remaining fruit inventory in our coolstores effectively to enable us to continue to send good quality fruit to all markets for the duration of the shipping season. In this regard, pest and residue holds are causing us some issues with shipping flexibility. Certain parcels of fruit are restricted from major markets due to various pest and residue holds and, because of the size profile, are proving a challenge to find available markets. Presenting fruit to the packhouse that is residue and pest free significantly assists in reducing fruit loss and resultant quality issues, as we have complete flexibility to ship this fruit when required and without delay.

With the reduced industry crop volume this season, Zespri are planning on a shorter shipping season, with the last orders planned to leave New Zealand in early October. We have shipped approximately 60% of our fruit inventory, with the remaining 40% left to send in the next three and a half months. This should see a busy next couple of months for our condition checking, repacking, order preparation and loadouts teams.

Debbie Robinson
Head of Supply

Grower time income 2023

Weekly time rates were significantly increased for 2023. As a reminder, the following table was published prior to the 2023 season start to give the industry a guide on what impact the increased time rates would have on the different fruit groups. This table used the November 2022 departure forecast for the potential percentage increase per fruit group.

As we all now know, 2023 tray numbers are significantly down on all predictions, largely due to poor bud-breaks, frosts, floods, hail and what seemed like never-ending rain.

Due to the lower crop volume, Zespri is ordering the fruit to be loaded early, with the last week of loading planned for Week 40, considerably earlier than in previous years. This early phasing should result in significantly lower fruit loss as the fruit will not need to be stored for as long. That, along with the industry’s focus on quality, should result in better fruit quality and increased confidence from our customers.

However, another outcome of early shipping is that growers should expect time payments to be reduced. The rate increases were largely applied in the latter weeks, as this is where the risk of fruit loss lies, but these will likely not be utilised this year. With that reality, storage incentives will be relatively low.

Mel Poulton – New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy (SATE)

Women in Kiwifruit recently hosted New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy (SATE) and farmer, Mel Poulton, in the Zespri Fieldays tent. SATE is a unique role, established by the New Zealand Government – alongside our agriculture sector – to bring a farmer’s perspective to international trade in food and agriculture, and to build partnerships with offshore primary producer organisations.

Mel spoke about what she’s seeing worldwide, and how this relates to New Zealand and our future as we strategically reposition ourselves on the global stage. What came across first and foremost when she spoke was her absolute passion for being a food producer from New Zealand. Mel owns a 2500-acre beef and sheep farm business based in the Tararua district of the lower North Island. She explained how meeting with other farmers and growers around the country grounds her decisions during trade negotiations and how she often sees their faces and recalls conversations while representing their views.

She discussed how we can be bold on an international stage due to our strong global reputation, support industry ‘ecosystems’ and industry advocates around us, but to lead successfully, we need to make sure that when we step forward, we do so with humility.

The feeling from many of those that attended was how fortunate we are to have people like Mel representing our interests on the world stage.

    Pranoy Pal
    Kiwifruit Technical Manager

    Management of wet soils this year

    High rainfall and flooding over the last two seasons have saturated soils in several regions and caused waterlogging in certain orchards as well. These wet, low-oxygen environments have created ideal conditions for root diseases like Phytophthora, Armillaria and Pythium. The additional vine stress from these diseases may increase the incidence of vine decline and death. Improving drainage, soil structure, and soil health are critical to vine health and productivity. In these situations, soil aeration and a balanced root-to-canopy ratio are the keys to profitable production.

    Understand your soil tests

    • Compare your tests from the last three years and check if particular nutrients have been depleted. You may not have lost all of the nutrients due to limited uptake by the vines, hence, you may also not need to apply all the nutrients as in the last few years. Please get in touch with your Grower Services Representative if you are unsure.
    • If you have taken a soil test immediately after winter pruning, your total carbon levels in the soil may not be the true representation because mulching of the clippings would contribute to a higher value.
    • If you are about to book a soil test, specifically request that a sample is taken on a clear day after at least two clear days in a row. Higher soil moisture can alter the test results.

    Soil ponding at the orchard

    • If your orchard has a slope or dips, then the continuous rains of this past growing season would have caused run-off, topsoil erosion and ponding. Identify those spots and use a 600mm drill to dig up to about 1.0-1.5m at the centre of that row and fill it with stones/metal. This will become the channel to drain water at those difficult spots.

    Check your drains

    • Your drains may have been clogged from silt and sediment deposition over the last two seasons due to significant rains. Make arrangements to unclog those drains.

    Make the best use of non-rain days. If your orchard had silt deposits, the best solution would be to remove as much as possible, followed by mixing up the soil profile and increasing the organic matter.

    Soil aeration

    • Perform techniques such as ground hogging and soil ripping after a compost application.
    • Soil ripping can break up pans and fracture soil.
    • Dig a few holes to check for fine root hairs, white roots and root bark as early indicators (Figure 1).
    • Increase the organic matter content of your soils. This is a slow and steady process. Cover cropping (using a mixture of several grass/legume species) can add organic matter, prevent erosion and runoff of the topsoil, and prevent soil compaction by creating a ‘cushion’ layer due to its root system.

    Lookout for the symptoms of Armillaria and Phytophthora

    • Sluice the soil around the trunk base to clear it from around the root crown. Remove any diseased tissue with a sharp knife before it reaches the crown and spreads to other roots. Recheck the roots and remove any infection annually. Extend the margin of water-blasted vines so that there are always two clean vines cleared in front of an infection.

    Figure 1. (A) dying root system: redness, loss of bark and absence of fine white root mass (B) healthy root system.

    Xylogiannis E, Mastroleo M, Knill K (2023). Soggy soils and vine health Lessons from Italy with KVDS. Kiwifruit Journal, June-July 2023, page 22-25.
    KiwiTech Bulletin N101. Management of stressed vines.

    Bex Astwood
    Organic Category Manager

    Organic update

    This month we completed the picking and packing of Green Organic (HWOB). To put it into numbers, this amounts to 2850 bins or 220,000 trays. Furthermore, our average Class 1 packout stands at 85.9%, with an average size of 32.2 and an average of 5,800 trays per hectare.

    At Trevelyan’s, we have shipped approximately 74% of our GAOB inventory, have 12% on order, and have 14% yet to be ordered and shipped. Zespri will be finished shipping GAOB to Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan by the end of July, with the US and Europe carrying on into August. As of the end of June, Zespri has 88% of submitted fruit shipped or on order. Our in-market quality checking for GAOB is looking good, with 10 fails and 225 passes over all 100 and 200 fruit samples – growers, let me know if you would like to see how your fruit performed at the in-market quality checks.

    With HWOB, we are 60% shipped, with 11% on order and 29% yet to be ordered. Zespri has 60% of HWOB inventory shipped or ordered, with 40% remaining.

    Seeing the increase in returns for organic growers for the final 2022 OGR was a positive. Zespri’s final OGRs were up $0.70 to $12.28 for GAOB and $0.64 to $8.68 for HWOB. Growers can check out your individual forecasts within the Grower Portal.

    It was great to see many of our organic growers at James and Vicki’s GAOB orchard for the Trevelyan’s Gold3 Winter Field Day.

    I hope you have all had a breather after harvest, and I am looking forward to catching up over the next few weeks.

    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.

    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:

    1. We develop high-level policies and procedures to promote sustainable behaviours e.g. Supplier Code of Conduct, Terms and Conditions for Contractors.
    2. We connect with our suppliers through reciprocal site visits to better understand each other’s processes and challenges.
    3. 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 wastestreams generated by their activities and the products they supply us.
    4. We develop and refine our processes to incorporate the outcomes we have agreed on.
    5. 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.

    Colin Olesen
    TGL Chair

    What is over the horizon? – surely not more rain!

    Your Directors received reports on the end of packing for the season and, with them, papers on the challenges ahead for the 2024 harvest season.

    With the weather the way it has been, it is better to look beyond the horizon (on a consistent basis) to see if that elusive sunshine will reveal itself sometime soon.

    For industry planning, most eyes are also looking over the horizon, trying to understand what needs to be done to adequately prepare for what could be a bumper production harvest starting in March 2024. The discussion paper that Zespri has produced was a 29-page read and covered almost every imaginable consideration. Two levels need to be addressed – one from an industry perspective and another from a Trevelyan growers family perspective. And the two are intertwined!

    Zespri are holding Shed Meetings in July that include this topic, where grower feedback is sought. Please ensure your thoughts and opinions are expressed at these shed meetings or to your TGL Directors and your Grower Services Representative. We all need to be aware of what lies ahead of us.

    Another important subject is the level of Grower transparency there is (or is not) relating to fruit quality reporting. Sometimes I wonder if we are fully aware of the value Trevelyan’s places on openness and transparency. The good and the bad should be shared in the same way – frankly and upfront. There is an IAC recommendation paper that would have been presented to IAC for a decision by the time you read this. The paper suggests that three issues should be openly reported so that growers have the answers:

    1. How is my fruit performing? Am I part of the problem?
    2. How is my Supplier/Entity performing relative to other Suppliers/Entities? Are they part of the problem?
    3. How is the Industry/Zespri performing?

    Your TGL Directors strongly support the IAC paper recommendations.

    Thanks to the TPCL team for getting our fruit packed and stored with the challenge of hail-damaged fruit and wet weather. Growers appreciate that a (at times) challenging job has been completed on time. Well done!

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