Insights from New Zealand growers crucial for industry-wide resilience 


Apal Future Orchards International Tour covered Tasman and Hawke’s Bay regions

A group of 40 Australian growers and industry professionals visited two of New Zealand’s major growing regions as part of the Apal Future Orchards International Tour on 15–19 January 2024. 

The tour, which was sponsored by Sumitomo and Unitec, covered topics including labour challenges, cutting-edge agricultural technology, the intricacies of canopy management and data-driven decision-making. 

The event began in the Nelson region, offering a deep dive into orchard management strategies and highlighted the innovation of New Zealand’s apple industry. 

It then transitioned to Hawke’s Bay, where attendees heard insights into the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle and the intricate systems and technologies employed by local orchards. 

“Engaging with growers across both the Tasman and Hawke’s Bay regions was a fantastic opportunity for our growers, offering a first-hand look at the diversity in planting systems, varieties and management styles,” said Apal’s industry services manager for grower development and trials, Nic Finger. 

“The on-farm interactions provided a great networking opportunity, fostering connections among Australian growers, suppliers and their New Zealand counterparts. Sharing experiences in apple and pear production directly in the orchard environment was a great aspect of this tour.” 

Ian Cover, Apal’s industry services manager for biosecurity and extension added, “Exploring the orchards in New Zealand has been an eye-opener, witnessing the unique biosecurity challenges and innovative solutions employed by growers. The exchange of knowledge between Australian and New Zealand growers has been pivotal in enhancing our collective understanding of biosecurity practices in apple and pear production.  

“Traversing the Tasman and Hawke’s Bay regions allowed us to appreciate the different biosecurity landscapes and extension approaches. It’s evident that collaboration and shared insights are crucial in advancing our industry’s resilience. The camaraderie built during this tour will undoubtedly contribute to stronger practices back home.” 

Jacob and Isabella Fankhauser of Fankhauser Apples said the tour provided a unique opportunity to observe and compare the orchard management practices in New Zealand to those in Australia. 

“The tour opened our eyes to new ways of growing and managing our orchard back in Australia. Seeing how the Kiwis tackled challenges like Cyclone Gabrielle, made us recognise that orchard management is a shared global tough experience.”