Declan Graham. Photo by Plant and Food Research.
A new research programme for pipfruit, kiwifruit and
summer fruit is expected to see potential yield increases of
between 50% and 150% by 2025.
Plant and Food Research (PFR) was given $8.3 million over six
years by the Government, along with a 20% industry buy-in, in
August, to redesign orchards from the ground up.
PFR business manager Declan Graham said the programme, Future
Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS), was designed to increase the
productivity and efficiency of the industry and that included
expanding the kiwifruit and pipfruit sectors to $4 billion,
up from the present $1.5 billion, by 2025.
Before PFR submitted its proposal to the Government, it asked
an independent analyst to carry out economic modelling on the
proposed production systems to determine potential
profitability, Mr Graham said.
PFR was told that in relation to pipfruit, there was the
potential to double the yield, which could make some
varieties of apples such as Jazz and the Pacific series one
of the best horticultural investments. The summer fruit
industry has committed $90,000 for next six years and the
value of that industry was expected to increase to $200
million by 2025, up from the current $30 million-$35 million.
The programme's goals included simplifying orchard
management, developing new rootstock, consistently optimising
fruit quality, producing a greater yield without a
significant increase in cost and ensuring more plant energy
was spent on fruit production rather than tree and canopy
growth, Mr Graham said.
PFR also wanted to produce quality fruit that appealed to the
growing Asian markets.
''The growth in the Asian markets is a huge shift and we are
exporting more fruit there than to Europe - and the forecast
is for that to keep on increasing,'' Mr Graham said.
''We have now displaced South Africa [as a supplier] in the
Thailand market for apples.''
India, the Middle East and China were also growing markets,
Mr Graham said.
''There is the opportunity for Pipfruit New Zealand to double
their markets by 2025.''
In its funding application PFR estimated that by 2025 new
planting systems had the potential to increase production to
170 tonnes per ha for some varieties of apples, up from about
60 tonnes per ha.
Scientists in Hawkes Bay and Nelson would focus on pipfruit,
while summer fruit and in particular cherries and apricots
would be the focus at Clyde's research centre, Mr Graham
PFR hopes to reduce the time between planting and fruit
production, improve fruit uniformity, make it easier for
machinery-assisted harvesting, provide greater labour
efficiencies, utilise artificial pollination systems, improve
carbon footprints, ensure a more efficient use of water and
optimise use of crop protection products. PFR intended to
train trees to grow horizontally with multiple leaders,
rather than the more traditional central leader.
This will also reduce canopy competition and encourage more
growing points, which means more fruit and a more uniform
harvest maturing or ripening and a higher soluble solids
The reduced canopy will encourage maximum light penetration
of about 90% and will also potentially reduce pest and
disease pressure and increase drying time, which will also
reduce disease potential.
''In the first year we will be working with nurseries to
provide us with purpose-designed trees that lend themselves
to new ways of growing and to improve the rootstock,'' he
''Clyde PFR had produced some really nice fruit in Clyde for
the past 10 years.
''Some of the early summer fruit programmes have given us
some strong leads for the FOPS programme,'' Mr Graham said.