Kia ora, welcome to our Kiwifruit Newsletter

eNews Kiwifruit May 2023 Edition

James Trevelyan
Managing Director

I don’t think I am a rocket scientist, but…


The above graph was presented at ISG last week. It shows the historical and predicted volumes of kiwifruit over time. The big question is, will the industry see a crop of 133m trays of G3 next year? We will have a sense of how floral the vines will be by watching the chill hours relative to past years. This can be done on the KVH site here

Irrespective of the volumes we harvest in 2024, we need to plan for the highest volume scenario, as shown in the graph above. With the commercial climate and the prior low volume years, post-harvest will probably not be in a position to increase their packing or coolstore hardware onshore this coming year. It then becomes a case of using the collective mind to solve the potential problem.

There are a few fundamentals to this equation; firstly, the fruit that sits on the supermarket shelf must uphold Zespri as a premium brand. Secondly, the industry needs to use all available packing capacity. This will mean starting the harvest earlier rather than later, with the appropriate balance of coolstorage sourced offshore if required. Lastly, as a grower, I need to grow and harvest a high-value crop with care; I need a crop with good taste and great size, and not get distracted with 39’s, 36’s and the pains associated with NIR when packing G3.

As fruit volumes begin to challenge onshore processing capacity, which was always going to happen as further licenses were released, these problems/opportunities need a home with all affected parties around the table. Problems with no home become negative and destructive. I’m not a rocket scientist, but we need to pull the table together sooner rather than later. We may get away with next year’s crop, but the following will surely be challenging.

John Lewitt
Head of Operations and Logistics

The season so far and our focus going forward

Staffing levels and attendance have been much improved in 2023. We have been able to fully staff all eight of our shifts for the duration of the season so far. With our SunGold Main Season packing now completed, however, there is no longer sufficient fruit being harvested for us to continue operating with all shifts. Our dayshift and nightshift teams in Packhouse 1 finished packing for the season on the 23rd of May; we thank them for their hard work and commitment, helping us through another busy and successful KiwiStart and SunGold Main Pack season.

The Bin Store/Controlled Atmosphere (CA) Coolstore and Controlled Humidity Packing system have proved their worth during the period of poor weather at a critical time in the SunGold Harvest Season. The system allowed us to increase picking ahead of and between rain events and then store surplus fruit bins in both the Bin Store and CA Stores. This allowed us to continue packing with all shifts operating uninterrupted for the 10-day weather-affected picking period.

Explosive softs in the Gold fruit have been challenging again this season. The levels started off low up to Week 16 but increased sharply after that to similar levels seen in 2022. A percentage of these explosives are a result of the hailstorm earlier this season, as some of the fruit affected by hail has expressed as explosive softs. We continue to deal with hail-affected crops in both SunGold and Hayward varieties and are managing this challenge by ensuring the focus is on removing as much affected fruit as possible on the orchard. We have robust systems in place in the packhouses to deal with the hail-affected fruit, which are helping to minimise the effect on our production speeds and ensuring we can continue to pack in grade.

Our focus now turns to the Hayward Main Pack crop, which we expect to have completed by mid-June. After that, we will pack out our SunGold Controlled Atmosphere fruit, concluding the 2023 packing season.

Debbie Robinson
Head of Supply

Hail insurance

The 2023 season will be remembered for its range of challenging weather events. Growers have battled frosts, floods and hail, and while in previous years there was commercial insurance available that covered frost and hail events, this type of insurance has become virtually unprocurable by the industry or individual growers. The result is that the only hail insurance available now is an Industry self-insurance policy administered through the Zespri pools. The policy is reviewed annually by the industry hail subgroup.

The following are the proposed values for the 2024 Industry Hail Policy.

Please note – the following recommendation to adjust the Maximum Indemnity Limit for trays supplied is being proposed for the 2024 policy, and at the time of writing this, a final decision has not been made.

Trevelyan Growers Limited (TGL) – top-up insurance

Please note that TGL also has a top-up hail insurance in place for growers, funded by the TGL pools.

This policy mirrors the industry insurance and means any grower with a successful claim through the industry self-insurance hail policy will get an extra $1.00 per tray. There is a limit of $500,000 available in any year. The $1.00/tray top-up will be pro-rated accordingly if the limit is breached.

Women in Kiwifruit: Fieldays speaker event – all welcome

Once again, Women in Kiwifruit is hosting a speaker in the Zespri tent this Field Days.

Field days 2023 occurs from the 14-17th June at Mystery Creek, Hamilton.

Come along to the Zespri tent at Fieldays to hear Women in Kiwifruit’s guest, New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy and farmer, Mel Poulton, will talk about what she’s seeing around the world and how this relates to NZ and our future as we strategically reposition ourselves on the global stage. Mel will be fresh off the plane from her most recent trip to India and Sri Lanka, and this is a great chance to hear her insights.

This unique role was 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.

Everyone is most welcome; this event is open to all.

  • Friday July 16th at 2 pm.
  • Zespri tents F49 and E48 (next to the Fieldays Bar and Eatery).

Pranoy Pal
Kiwifruit Technical Manager

Planning for the upcoming season

This last season, growers have experienced almost everything in terms of natural disasters, including poor bud-break (due to a warmer winter), frost, extreme torrential rains, cyclone Gabrielle, and hail. We are crossing our fingers for a better upcoming season because El Nino predictions indicate a good accumulation of winter chill (with a warning that it can turn to a frost too – so recheck your frost fans and sprinklers). Higher winter chill could mean better bud-break and a higher yield season, but we must consider some of the points below.

There is a possibility that even with a good bud-break, we’ll have a lower floral response – especially in orchards where summer pruning has been poor and caused shading. The last two seasons have been the wettest on record, which may have resulted in ‘root shrinkage’ as well as root dieback in many orchards. Moreover, with lesser sunshine hours (read January Kiwifruit News here), the photosynthetic rates were also lower, causing less carbohydrates to be stored in the roots. This would mean that the vines may not be prepared to ‘carry’ the expected higher crop loads due to better winter chill. It’s quite likely that orchards with compromised roots will flower and pollinate well, but when the stress really comes on these plants in mid-summer, vines will begin to tip over (i.e., look sick and die) and/or abort fruit.

The challenges ahead, and what you can do:

  1. Plan for a ‘moderate’ cropload: After a tough couple of years financially, growers may be tempted to carry higher croploads to account for the lost OGR. While some orchards (not affected by water stress/root dieback) will be able to handle higher croploads, those where you’ve noticed long periods of saturated soils in the last season may not, so moderate the cropload. This will allow the vines to ‘bounce back’ from the shock they have experienced due to several stress events such as waterlogging, hail and frost. Plan ahead – prior to winter pruning (to determine your targeted yield, number of winter buds per square meter, cane spacing etc). Several tools are available to assist with these calculations on the Trevelyan website (here).
  2. Expect increased variability within blocks: Due to the varied weather impacts on the vines, parts of the block may respond to winter chill differently. Some may have a scattered bud-break and hence, cause higher variability croploading and fruit maturity, resulting in fruit quality problems next season and, ultimately, a poor consumer product.
    • Monitor your vines’ bud-break and fruitset throughout the season, performing several rounds of flower bud and fruit thinning to adjust numbers. Target flowers/fruit with low value (i.e., remove side flowers, small fruit, and misshapen fruit).
  3. Increased soil-borne diseases: Some orchards have experienced oxygen-deficit (i.e., anoxic) conditions from prolonged wet spells. In addition to root dieback, this can increase the prevalence of soil-borne diseases such as Armillaria and Phytophthora. Soils have also been compacted through the season due to sprayer and softrider/tractor use while the soil is wet/saturated, causing further anoxic soil conditions.
    • The best remedy is to aerate the soils and address soil drainage.
    • Practices such as soil ripping, ground hogging, and maintaining a longer inter-row sward can help break the hardpan formed due to compaction.
    • Focus on increasing organic matter – this can be achieved by incorporating compost during soil ripping rather than a broadcast application.
    • Sowing cover crops during June/July can also regenerate the soils by increasing organic matter and beneficial soil biology.
  4. Focus on soil nutrition: compare your soil tests of the last three years to see if the wet seasons have ‘washed off’ your nutrients. If nutrients are present, further fertilisation may not be necessary, as roots may be underdeveloped and not ready to uptake the optimum amount of nutrition.

This upcoming season is the season to slow down for many – variability may be huge, and we will not see the full impact of last spring/summer until mid/late summer next year – allow the vines to stabilise and flourish.

Bex Astwood
Organic Category Manager

Organic update

Welcome to the May newsletter, with the latest update on our ongoing harvest.

On the 23rd of May, we completed the packing of all our Gold Organic (GAOB) produce. This milestone signifies a major accomplishment for our growers and is a culmination of the dedication and hard work put into the harvest season. To put it into numbers, this amounts to 14,042 bins or 1,254,436 trays. Furthermore, our average Class 1 Packout stands at 86.3%, with an average size of 26. For comparison, in 2022, the average Class 1 Packout was 84.3%, with an average size of 27.4.

I met with Tracey Armstrong, Zespri’s Global Growth Lead Organics, to touch base on what is happening in the markets. Zespri Organic has now reached most of the markets, including Asia, Europe, and North America. The focus for these markets is ensuring Zespri Organic drives the best return by maximising the premium price, which is especially vital given the reduced supply this season. The initial feedback from the markets is that fruit quality is high. This is great news and demonstrates the commitment and effort the whole industry has put towards fruit quality.

Our Kiwifruit Technical Manager, Pranoy Pal, recently distributed scale guidance. Scale can be a significant issue for kiwifruit and has previously resulted in market holds due to finds during packing. This guidance highlights the efficiency of a targeted postharvest spray using a 1% concentration of Excel Organic oil and emphasises the importance of implementing best practices for scale control, such as removing complex crowns, replacing high-risk shelters, and inspecting nursery plants. See his article in the previous newsletter here. If you would like any further information on this, please reach out to myself or Pranoy.

Meanwhile, preparations for the Green Organic (HWOB) crops are in full swing. As we approach the end of May, we are gearing up to commence the picking of our Main Pack crops. So far, we have packed 41.2% of our HWOB crop, which totals 103,968 Class 1 trays.

We are grateful for your continued support and look forward to sharing more updates and successes as the season wraps up. Thanks for being part of our journey.

Sarah Lei
Head of Sustainability

Knowledge is power

The kiwifruit industry is full of acronyms, and it can be a challenge for new people to work out what a KPIN, GACK or MA means in a practical sense. Likewise, the sustainability sector has its own set of terminology, including GHG, ESG, ETS and COP.

When faced with such a long list of bewildering terminology, it’s easy to turn away and return to what we understand and what fits within our sphere of influence. However, the benefits of expanding our knowledge cannot be understated; some key ones include:

  1. Creating clarity from confusion
  2. Gaining courage to make the hard calls
  3. Making a commitment to act

We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves about the world in which we live and the impacts that our decisions have on others and our planet. One of Trevelyan’s core values is Responsibility – We care about our community and our environment. Throughout our sustainability journey over the last 12 years, we have worked hard to understand and mitigate our impacts.

Trevelyan’s measures the amount of waste we produce and carbon we emit; we report these regularly across our organisation and in our annual sustainability report. Even when the results aren’t as good as we would like, we follow another of Trevelyan’s values, Trust – We are fair, open and honest, and look at how we can improve in the future.

We encourage our stakeholders to educate themselves on sustainability and climate change (and the acronyms!) and what it means for our region and our industry so that we can all work together towards a better future.

If you would like to learn more about climate change, Sustainable Bay of Plenty are running Community Information Sessions in June, in Partnership with Tauranga City Council.  These will summarise the key points from the climate plans and policies that impact New Zealand. They will also cover what’s happening here in the Bay, plus you’ll get some helpful tips to cut emissions. Find out more here…


Other useful sustainability and climate change resources include:

Discover your impact on the Planet

Trevelyan’s 2021 Sustainability Report (2022 Report coming soon)

Zespri’s Sustainability Priorities and Strategy

Zespri Sustainability – Our Environment

Zespri’s Climate Change Mitigation Plan – Responding to a Changing Climate

Zespri’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan – Adapting to Thrive in a Changing Climate

Colin Olesen
TGL Chair

We can be positively negative, or just plain positive

It has been good to see a different horizon during the past month as Colleen and I participated in a Rotary Friendship Exchange to Kentucky, USA. Good in the sense that we made new friends and experienced a different food menu. Having biscuits and gravy for breakfast at the local diner was interesting. When the food was served to our table, I spent a few moments just looking at it. I soon learned that ‘biscuits’, in the USA, is the word for ‘scones’ in NZ – the gravy was a glue-like glop.

I have returned home with a newfound appreciation of what we enjoy deep in the South Pacific, but I express a concern that we as a country are headed in the same direction that some overseas countries are heading – where negativity rules.

How refreshing it was to attend the recent TGL Directors meeting, where the focus was on addressing the concerns of our industry in a positive manner, finding answers, and implementing solid decisions. Sometimes, we need to get into someone else’s backyard to fully appreciate our living area.

The effects of the recent hail damage are still being worked through, with hail-affected fruit lines still to be packed. We have the structure and the rules that apply, and we will soon see if they turn out to be appropriate and fair or if they need tweaking for the future.

The seal in some CA stores was purposefully broken to allow a continuation of packing when rain, rain, and more rain, deferred harvest picking. Your Directors agreed the CA incentive would still be paid on that CA stored fruit, based on fairness and equity.

We will all shortly receive the final payments for the 2022 crop. The cash flow will be a welcome relief for our Hayward Green growers.

Thank you to the Trevelyan Packhouse team for the excellent work to get our fruit sorted, packed, coolstored, and off to market. Only a week or two to go before picking has been completed, and then, we start again on the orchard for the next crop while the Packhouse works hard to ensure the right fruit gets to the right market in excellent condition. We work together, and for each other, for a better future.

Colin Olesen – Chair

Grower survey

In a particularly challenging environment, it is more important than ever that we hear from our valued growers. This allows us to remain focused on delivering the very best customer service and ensuring our continuous improvement.

Please take a moment to answer the survey questions here regarding the harvest season and share your views or experiences with us.

This information is invaluable to the team at Trevelyan’s, thank you in advance for your time.