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Southern horticultural ventures expand

Potatoes growing in Canterbury

Southern horticultural ventures expand

The productive lands from North Canterbury through to South Canterbury host a wide variety of horticultural crops, from pipfruit and wine grapes, to strawberries and blackcurrants, as well as many kinds of fresh vegetables. Further south in Central Otago, the many well-established stonefruit and pipfruit orchards are now complemented by increasing areas of premium wine grapes.

The Fruitfed Supplies personnel based in Christchurch, Alexandra and Cromwell provide advice, products and services to growers across these vast southern regions. Backed by the Fruitfed Supplies Technical team and supported by the Crop Monitoring team, their goal is to offer industry leading technical advice to help the region’s growers produce quality yields and maximise returns.

Blair Murdoch, Area Sales Manager for Canterbury, says currently there are five Technical Horticultural Representatives (THRs) in the region, as well as a Trainee THR about to transition into a fulltime role. 

“For us, it’s about supporting our clients who grow quality food for both local and export markets. Our five THRs work out of the Christchurch Fruitfed Supplies store and several PGG Wrightson Rural Supplies stores throughout the greater Canterbury region, assisting growers from Cheviot through to Oamaru. We have good support from our Crop Monitoring and Technical teams to help our growers access accurate crop protection data and product information."

Large parcels of flat land suitable for cropping, viticultural and orcharding, plus reliable water, are assets for horticultural enterprises in the wider Canterbury region.

Blair says: “New, softer chemistry options and improving the sustainability of crop production are at the forefront of many of our grower’s thoughts. This is where the work done by our Research and Development team is so important to support the registration of crop protection products which meet these criteria.”

He adds: “There continue to be good conversations around land use change, how to make the new irrigation systems pay and where horticulture or viticulture could fit into a grower’s production programme.”

The Fruitfed Supplies Central Otago region covers Wanaka, Tarras, Cromwell, the Alexandra and Earnscleugh basins, and through to the wider Teviot Valley area incorporating Roxburgh, Millers Flat and Ettrick.

Cain Braithwaite, Area Sales Manager, says: “Our region grows some of New Zealand’s finest summer stonefruit and berries which are highly regarded for their intense flavours and world-class quality.” 

Cain says there’s been considerable expansion in the region with new cherry blocks and vineyards going in. “The region’s pipfruit sector dates back to early settlers with fruit availability March through until May.”

As the most inland growing region in the country, Central Otago’s hot, dry summers, cold winters and light schist soils provide the perfect growing environment for many pip and stonefruit varieties. “Growing here can also be challenging and that’s where the expertise and hands-on growing experience of our THRs makes a difference for local growers. We can also call on our wider Technical team for additional crop-specific advice and support as needed.”