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PGP Canopy Management Strategies, a Collaborative Approach

The New Zealand Avocado R&D Programme is taking a collaborative approach to answer our industry’s most important questions on growing avocados. Current research is harnessing the expertise of growers and rural professionals to understand the factors which contribute to successful avocado production. 


NZ Avocado is currently working with a wide section of our industry across 11 R&D projects. These projects are funded through either NZ Avocado core funding, the PGP programme, the Plant & Food Research (PFR) MBIE programme, or PFR core funding. The programme is highly reliant on the scientific expertise of NZ Avocado and PFR. However, it has been a priority for NZ Avocado that the programme includes the expertise of growers and rural professionals to ensure the projects address the correct issues and produce outcomes that are practical and applicable.

PGP Canopy Management Strategies Working Groups

There are growers, contractors and consultants who have been experimenting with canopy management strategies for a number of years. Over time and through trial and error they have developed systems that seem to work for their situation and in most cases they are happy to share their expertise.

Canopy management strategies (CMS), developed by industry professionals, will be compared by the working groups in commercial orchards in three different regions; Bay of Plenty, Whangarei, and the Far North. The role of these CMS on the productivity of the orchards will be determined in order to develop best practice guidelines. The impact of implementing best practice will be estimated in commercial terms.

The work of the group will be divided into these steps:    

  • Identification of the CMS
  • Description of CMS's
  • Selection of most promising CMS's
  • Evaluation of the CMS
  • Definition of best practice guidelines

Bay of Plenty Canopy Management Working Group

A working group has been established under the canopy management project in the Bay of Plenty.  This group involves growers, contractors, consultants and scientists that have been heavily involved in canopy management. The objective of the group is to identify, describe and monitor different canopy management strategies to evaluate their performance in our conditions. The group was established in early 2015 and is currently developing a standard method to describe the different strategies available.

 Members of the Working Group

  • John Cotterell (Coordinator)
  • Maria Watchorn (Coordinator)
  • Frank Baggenstoss
  • David French
  • Mike Dillon
  • Mike Darling
  • Brendon Cheshire
  • Brien James
  • Lindsay Heard
  • Colin Partridge
  • John Emmet
  • Mark Ryan
  • Alvaro Vidiella
  • Phillip West
  • Edouard Perie
  • Danni van der Heijden


A survey of CMS's will be carried out by the group. The first step is to define the methodology for the survey. Being the first time that this type of survey will be carried out, the initial goal has been to develop the survey method.

Working to develop the survey method:

A workshop was held at the Watchorn’s orchard with Mike Dillon, Maria Watchorn, John Cotterell, Edouard Perie and Alvaro Vidiella as a starting point in the definition of the methodology of the survey. The objective of the workshop was to describe the CMS developed by Mike Dillon with the hope that this process would help develop a template that could be used with the rest of the CMS that will be surveyed. 

The result of this initial workshop was further discussed with all members of the group in the field at a second workshop. The workshop was held at the Cotterell's orchard and the method description was validated by the group.

The result of this second workshop included a description of the method including some videos that you can see here.

The process developed to describe the methods will be applied to other methods in the area in the next weeks.

As mentioned before, after a number of methods are described, the most promising ones will be selected to be evaluated in commercial conditions. 

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