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Kiwifruit is by far New Zealand’s largest fresh horticultural export, with sales of NZ fruit in 2018/19 of NZ$2.6 billion. In 2018/19 some 2,800 growers sold 149 million trays of kiwifruit to over 50 markets. The industry is experiencing strong growth which is expected to continue over the coming years.

80% of production is in the Bay of Plenty and the rest spans from the top of the North Island to the top of the South Island.

The industry’s growth will require increasing numbers of seasonal workers as well as industry specialists in scientific, commercial and technical roles. The scope for a high-value career in horticulture has never been so high.

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The New Zealand avocado industry is vibrant and growing, with a vision and strategy in place to quadruple sales to $280m and triple productivity by 2023.

There is a surge in orchard plantings in New Zealand as a result of the recent returns achieved. There are 3,800 hectares in production with an expected 1,000 hectares likely to begin producing in the next two to five years. The industry is confident there is market demand across the export and New Zealand market provided we continue to produce high quality avocados that meet consumer needs.

Industry stakeholders will be investing into people with skills in horticulture, technology, communications and global trade to deliver upon their growth objectives and deliver premium avocados from New Zealand to the world.

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Summerfruit NZ is the industry body that represents growers of apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums – collectively known as summerfruit.

Our orchards are found mainly in Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago, and while our sector is relatively small with approximately 240 growers, the summerfruit industry is poised to enter a new phase of growth with increased plantings of cherries about to take off and new varieties of apricots being trialled for export markets.

With so much potential for growth, it’s a great time to join the summerfruit industry and build a rewarding career in horticulture.

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New Zealand is the best place in the world to grow apples and pears. We are ranked first for international competitiveness and are on target to become a $1billion export industry by 2022.

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New Zealand has around 35 asparagus growers producing over 2000 tonne of asparagus per annum. Like many crops a handful of large growers make up roughly 90% of the volume. Key growing areas are Waikato, Manawatu – Horowhenua, Hawkes Bay and Canterbury.

Asparagus is a perennial crop lasting 10-12 years. It is planted in rows in fields, and is 3 years old from seed before it has its first harvest. The harvest period is mid-September through to mid-December (approx.100 days), with timing varying slightly by region.

The crop is harvested daily by hand with harvesters walking the rows cutting off the correct length spears. There is approx. 6km of rows in a hectare and the harvest starts early in the morning to ensure the best quality crop is picked in the cool. Once harvested the crop is trucked to the packhouse where it is cooled, graded and packed ready for sale. Most packhouses use high speed vision graders.

Currently there is a team from Waikato University and Robotics Plus working on the development of a robotic asparagus harvester to assist with the harvest.

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The New Zealand fresh tomato industry has a farmgate value of $128million, with around 10% of our crop exported mainly by air to Australia, the Pacific Islands and Asia, along with some volume to Canada. There are around 135 growers in NZ with key growing operations centred around Auckland, the central North Island, Nelson and Christchurch.

Growing tomatoes under cover is a sophisticated business, with a minimum capital investment of approximately $1 – $2.5 million per hectare. Most growers are committed to year-round production using hydroponic or semi-hydroponic systems. Many heat their greenhouses not just for frost protection, but for total environment control to achieve increased yield, a reduction in disease issues, and to maintain consistent quality.

There is a range of skills required for greenhouse tomato production. To find out more about the industry contact TomatoesNZ on: tomatoes@hortnz.co.nz.

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Vegetables New Zealand Incorporated represents the interests of growers of all fresh vegetable crops (other than potatoes, onions, tomatoes, asparagus, and buttercup squash).

It represents approximately 760 growers who produce over 50 crops with a farm gate value of over $400 million per annum.

It is the largest of the vegetable product groups, and with such a wide range of crops, it has the task of ensuring that the interests of all its member growers are represented.

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The New Zealand onion industry is export orientated with 85% of all New Zealand onions exported to 45 markets around the world. The industry offers many exciting roles both indoors and outdoors. It is an industry that is focussed on utilising skilled professionals to do more with capital resources.

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There are around 150 strawberry growers in NZ, growing over 8000 tonnes of strawberries each season predominately for the local market. Approximately 65% of strawberry plantings are in the greater Auckland region, followed by about 15% in Waikato, and the balance in Hawkes Bay, Manawatu/Horowhenua, Northland, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury and Southland.

Strawberries are usually grown as an annual crop in raised beds enclosed with plastic, however growing strawberries hydroponically is increasing in popularity in New Zealand with some growers putting their crops up on “table tops” (off the ground) with some under cover.

The key harvest period is October – December with growers currently employing approximately 2400 seasonal workers, with some of our covered crop growers continuing harvest through to April-May. Staff are a key component of a successful operation and are strongly valued by growers. Many growers are owner/operators with high levels of experience who work alongside their staff and family members in the field and packhouse.

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