Friday, 06 November 2020 08:29

All-year round strawberries

Written by  Staff Reporters
NZ strawberry consumers will soon be able to dine on the fruit at anytime during the year. NZ strawberry consumers will soon be able to dine on the fruit at anytime during the year.

Local horticulture company T&G Fresh has teamed up with one of the world’s leading strawberry breeding companies to provide New Zealanders with year-round strawberries.

T&G Fresh is the domestic business of T&G Global and manages the production, sales and importing of all its fresh produce sold in New Zealand. 

In the deal, it will test, grow and market unique strawberry varieties from California-based Plant Sciences Incorporated (PSI) – an international berry breeder and agricultural research company. 

“We’re very excited about the prospect of working with the PSI team and, through our expert growers, bringing these great premium varieties to Kiwi consumers,” says Andrew Keaney, T&G Fresh managing director.

“We’ll be working with our New Zealand strawberry growers over the coming months and years to trial and transition to these exciting genetics, and we’ll also be the first port of call for any growers who want to include PSI berries in their operations.”

He says the deal demonstrates the company’s commitment to developing strong IP and partnering with other passionate growers to enable the year-round supply of the tastiest berries for consumers.”

Keaney says initial feedback is very exciting with yields, fruit quality, shelf-life, growing and harvesting efficiencies and fruit flavour all performing well.

“As well as looking at superior flavour, texture, shelf-life and colour, we’re also focused on developing varieties that reduce growing costs and increase productivity. 

“We have a range of varieties that are suitable for various growing methods, such as tunnel house, outdoor table-tops and traditional field production” 

He says because labour is a significant and ever-increasing cost, developing and choosing varieties that are easy to harvest is also a focus for the company.

PSI is an agricultural research company that focuses on plant breeding and propagation of berry crops for the global marketplace. 

Since 1985, it has been leading the way in innovation in small fruits plant breeding with exclusive genetics being grown in more than 50 countries around the world.  

Scott Nelson, global development for PSI, says his company is excited about the opportunity to bring innovative varieties to the New Zealand strawberry industry.” 

“Working closely with both T&G Fresh and their growers, we believe higher yields, better flavour and increased shelf life are achievable traits that will not only increase the margins to the farm but give consumers better tasting and longer lasting strawberries.” 

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Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

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To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

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