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Organic banana grower benefits from technical advice

Organic banana grower benefits from technical advice

Organic banana grower benefits from technical advice

Passionate about growing organically, Adam Alexander grows quality fruit while providing his team with a safe work environment. “It is great to be able to say the nastiest thing we put on the fruit is seaweed,” says Adam.

Through his business Cultivate Horticulture, Adam manages orchards including one owned by his family, the Yvonne Alexander Family Trust in Aongatete, Bay of Plenty. The orchard grows 11 ha of kiwifruit for exporting. A further 20 ha has been developed and includes avocados, to help diversify the trust’s income.

Without access to the same range of products as conventional growers, organic growing can prove challenging. Adam values the service he receives from Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative (THR) Alastair Reed.

“I’ve been a customer of Fruitfed for six years. I met Alastair through a research and development trial he was running on our block. Since becoming a THR, it has been great to be able to leverage off his product knowledge, having been involved in trials and seeing first-hand their efficacy.”

Adam appreciates Alastair’s ability to help him problem-solve. “I can ring Alastair and ask a question. If he isn’t sure of an answer, he contacts the technical team whose experience he can draw on. I always receive an articulate and cost-effective solution to implement.”

Adam enjoys the Facts magazine produced by Fruitfed Supplies as it contains articles across the major horticultural crops. “A few years ago, before going organic, I started using an alternative to copper after reading an article about it being successfully trialled on vegetable crops. I was struggling at the time with copper slowing the growth of the kiwifruit canopy early in the season, so I checked with Alastair and applied the product within a mix. It worked well.”

Two years ago, Cultivate Horticulture purchased land to grow bananas, planting six varieties including lady fingers, misi luki, and two Australian commercial varieties. Adam says the journey has been exciting and challenging, noting the difficulty in finding people who are growing bananas commercially in New Zealand.

Having been in the ground for six months, the bananas are growing well. Adam says he has been fortunate with Alastair having experience growing bananas in Zimbabwe. “By following Alastair’s advice, I have been able to establish the bananas easily.”

A Fruitfed Supplies team member for 17 years, Alastair worked within the crop monitoring team and assisted with research and development (R&D) trial assessments, before becoming a THR. He acknowledges the value R&D trials hold for growers. “Our R&D capabilities put us at the forefront of innovation bringing new products to New Zealand for testing on crops in local conditions. With crop safety measured in trials, for instance, if a product becomes registered for use, as THRs we can confidently advise growers to use the product, giving them peace of mind that what we’re recommending will work.”