Friday, 22 March 2019 09:06

Avocado scheme going for growth

Written by  Pam Tipa
Freshmax’s Jim Tarawa. Freshmax’s Jim Tarawa.

An avocado investment underway in the Far North will have a better productivity curve than more southern North Island orchards.

So says Freshmax avocado programme manager Jim Tarawa.

The production season is less acute in the Far North, Tarawa told a MyFarm investor briefing session.

In Bay of Plenty, for instance, biennial production can drop from full production to zero, whereas in the Far North there is a much smaller variation between seasons from the peak.

“We are seeing most new investment in avocados is in the Far North; it is a unique part of New Zealand,” he says.

Aupouri Avocados Ltd Partnership, between Freshmax and MyFarm, holds two properties totalling 32ha on the Aupouri Peninsula in the Far North. MyFarm raised $5.8 million last year from 32 investors to buy the properties. In early March this year, MyFarm raised another $3m from the existing owners and its investor database to buy two more properties for this partnership. 

Tarawa says Aupouri, while essentially the soil is sand, has the right mix of environment, heat and plenty of access to water. Most of the planting is going onto a rootstock variety which tolerates disease and water stress. It is all irrigated land.

Because the Far North has a small population base some lateral thinking will be required about how to service the volumes that will come out of the region, he says. 

Freshmax will operate the orchards and pack and market the fruit into new and existing markets. The company is a vertically integrated fresh produce business and has one of the largest fresh produce marketing and distribution operations in the Pacific region.

Consolidating the harvest at Whangarei where a good operation already exists is likely, Tarawa says. As the Far North is an early maturing region, labour may be brought up from Whangarei early in the season. 

Avocado is a sub-tropical plant which will not grow south of Taupo, except for a few parts of Nelson.

Access to water for avocado growing is an issue worldwide. For instance in Chile it doesn’t rain so growers rely on taking snow melt from the ground; but now they are facing challenges about how much they can take out, says Tarawa. In California volumes are shrinking because of insufficient water, Tarawa says. 

“In the Far North where we are growing in sand – I think it has .01% organic matter in it – there is a huge amount of work being done on fertigation (injection of fertilisers into irrigation) and on where you can grow it. You must have the temperature right.”

Tarawa says in New Zealand if water were managed the way the science says it should be there would be plenty of water; the difficulty is getting past the emotion.

Ample water is available in the Far North and water rights are being issued but there is pressure from the rapid development, Tarawa says. 

The region has seen a lot of money invested in avocado in the last two years.

“There will be more focus on the management of the volume of water and the monitoring.”

Once harvested, after 30 days avocado fruit quality starts to decline, Tarawa says. So a longer production season may assist in preserving fruit quality for various markets.

NZ has a good reputation for fruit quality based on the Hass variety, he says.

More like this

Beetle find concern for avocado sector

The avocado industry is on alert to understand more about the wood-boring granulate ambrosia beetle found in Auckland, says NZ Avocados chief executive, Jen Scoular.

Avocado sector joins GIA

The avocado industry has become the seventh industry partner to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership.

Fighting Nature with Nature

New research into sustainable pest management controls might soon offer avocado growers an effective non-chemical control against leafrollers.

Northland orchardist wins big

PATRICK MALLEY from Northland was the big winner at last night's Young Horticulturist of the Year awards, taking home the top prize and three other awards.


Industry reacts to UK FTA

Primary industries stakeholders  are welcoming the new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom announced today.

Historic FTA deal struck

Comprehensive, inclusive and high quality and providing fantastic opportunities for our exporters.

Tatua smashes $10 barrier

Waikato milk processor Tatua says keeping products moving to overseas customers during the pandemic was one of the highlights of…

Machinery & Products

Robo planter on the way

German farm machinery manufacturer Horsch says it is at an advanced stage of developing its aptly named Robo autonomous planter.

Keeping everyone safe

As tractors get larger and front linkage kits become more common, many have started fitting underrun or collision protection systems.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Flag it!

OPINION: Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O'Connor tried to keep his latest overseas jaunt secret squirrel.

Oh dear!

OPINION: This old mutt suggests that farmers' growing discontent with Beef+Lamb NZ's performance is going to reach fever peak after…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter