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Send in your bugs

- 13 Jan '17

Plant & Food Research are currently conducting research on the potential to use a parasitic wasp (T. japonicus) as a biocontrol option should a population of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) be detected in New Zealand. In a response, these wasps would be released to seek out and parasitize BMSB eggs. To enable the legal import of this wasp it is important to first understand its potential impact on our native shield bug populations.

Plant & Food research therefore need a supply of native shield bugs to test whether T. japonicus parasitizes them and you can help by sending in any shield bugs, in particular they need Schellenberg’s soldier bug, Oechalia schellenbergii,(pictured right).

Plant & Food Research asks that the live insects, and some of the plant foliage on which they were found, be placed in a paper bag (or wrapped in paper towelling), then placed in a plastic bag. The plastic bag prevents everything from drying out and the paper absorbs excess condensation.

They can then be boxed (for protection) and couriered to:

Sophie Hunt
New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research
120 Mt Albert Road
Sandringham 
Auckland 1025.

Please include a note with collection data (where collected, name of collector etc.).

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School holiday entertainment

Struggling to keep your kids entertained over the school holidays? Why not print out this kids colouring activity to help them learn about the nutrients in avocados - and have fun while they do it! Download here We've also got some great recipe ideas to make with kids: Avocado ice cream Bliss balls Avocado morepork with sushi See all our kids recipes here

Biosecurity preparedness for the avocado industry

Biosecurity preparedness for the avocado industry NZ Avocado is seeking industry feedback on the intention to sign the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) Operational Agreement (OA).  Just like the Fruit Fly OA, this is a threat specific arrangement under the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership. All horticulture groups were asked to undertake research to determine if they will be impacted by the arrival of BMSB into New Zealand. NZ Avocado has now completed this assessment and believes that we would be a minor beneficiary for the collective readiness and response activities that industries and MPI will undertake. Although the threat to avocados is believed to be minimal there remains a number of unknowns as BMSB has not yet invaded some of the major avocado producing areas of California so the investigation into the bugs potential to impact avocados continues.  The conclusion of the NZAGA Executive is that we should be part of the BMSB Operational Agreement. However, as the impact to avocados is minimal we have negotiated a very lowimpact rating and proportionate cost share (0.2%) with a well-defined fiscal cap. This ability to fix an industry’s financial liability through the Operational Agreement process is one of the main advantages of joining GIA.  With over 150 BMSB interception events in the 2016-17 risk period (September to April), this invasive bug has a high potential of invading NZ in the coming years. Through the GIA partnership we would want to help mitigate the impact of BMSB as they will also be a significant household nuisance for growers. See video here Also see the following video produced by MPI on the potential impacts to horticulture in New Zealand. See video here   Please contact Brad Siebert if you wish to discuss this further. 

On The Way To Meet Audacious Goals - Growers Rewarded With Record New Zealand Avocado Season

The New Zealand avocado industry has just reported its highest value ever with avocados sales reaching $198 million, an increase of $64 million on last season and $62 million higher than the previous record of $136 million in 2013-14. Volume too was a record 7.7 million trays in the 2016-17 season - an 84% increase on last season. The season saw significant increases in demand across all markets, with Australia remaining the industry’s largest market with an almost insatiable consumer demand. Over 70% of New Zealand avocados are exported with the remaining avocados sold in New Zealand. New Zealanders too are finding more and tastier ways to use avocados, and starting to add them regularly to their shopping basket. Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, says the industry’s Primary Growth Partnership programme: NZ Avocados Go Global, has provided a major boost to the sector. "We are part of an industry that has gone from $70 million in value in 2013 to an impressive $200 million in 2017. The Go Global programme gave us the platform as an industry to develop a strategy with audacious goals of quadrupling sales and trebling productivity in ten years. That strategy, and Crown investment has been implemented and resulted in fantastic growth in value right across the supply chain” says Scoular. "The independent review of the NZ Avocados Go Global programme said the five-year programme had made a major contribution to the New Zealand avocado industry,” says Scoular. "The review noted that we’ve achieved a step change in the way the industry operates and it’s now a much more trusting, collaborative, cohesive, communicative and co-ordinated industry, with a correspondingly greater public profile.” Alistair Petrie, Chair of the Avocado Exporter Council said, "We saw a superb increase in demand that was matched by excellent planning and supply from harvest through to delivery to customers in market. Versatility, health benefits and the amazing taste of avocados are the key drivers for that demand.” Ashby Whitehead, Chair of NZ Avocado, says the industry is in the best state it has been for many years. "With the huge increase in value from avocados and much higher visibility of the global opportunities, we are seeing strong growth throughout the industry. Demand for new trees has resulted in a near trebling of production at nurseries, large commercial investors in Northland are converting dairy farms to avocado orchards and smaller orchards are maximising the productivity of their orchards. Growers will be very happy with their returns and are looking at further investment. It’s a very exciting time to be in the New Zealand avocado industry.”

Pest alert: Myrtle Rust found in Kerikeri

Following the detection of the exotic fungus ‘Myrtle rust’ on Raoul Island last month, it has now been found on New Zealand’s mainland in Kerikeri. Spores of this fungal rust are easily spread by wind and, although not a pest of avocado trees, attacks plants of the myrtaceae family which includes many New Zealand natives (pohutukawa, rata, kanuka, manuka and ramarama) as well as some exotic fruit trees like Feijoa. Growers can help by looking out for symptoms on their native myrtaceae trees for powdery, bright yellow or orange-yellow pustules on leaves, tips and stems. For more information, please see the MPI update. If you think you have seen this fungal disease, please call MPI’s Exotic Pests and Diseases hotline - 0800 80 99 66.

Where have all the avocados gone

Ever wondered where avocados in NZ come from or why the supply changes through out the year? We've created a video that explains it all!  Check it out here

New Zealand's Best Avocado Cafe Announced

The hunt for the most popular avocado dish in New Zealand is over after thousands cast their votes. New Zealand Avocado invited cafes and restaurants throughout the country to send in their best-selling avocado recipes to battle it out via a Facebook poll amongst their 22,000 diehard New Zealand Avocado Facebook fans. The competition was tight, with nearly 2,000 avocado aficionados casting votes for 22 eateries from Auckland to Queenstown. Ultimately it was Best Ugly Bagels’ recipe for T.A.B – Tomato, Avocado and fresh Basil with Al Brown Lemon and Fennel infused Olive Oil, served on a toasted sesame bagel, that came out on top, winning the cafe the title of ‘New Zealand's Best Avocado Cafe 2017’.  Jeremy Coombes of Best Ugly Bagels, said this bagel consistently ranks in their top three sellers all year round.  "People are always raving about avocado on toast, but it’s even better on a freshly baked bagel! Add juicy sliced tomato on top and the combination of the tomato’s acidity and the creaminess of avocado - you really can’t beat it.” Best Ugly Bagels is owned by celebrity chef Al Brown who was delighted with the win. "We are thrilled to win this award and absolutely love using avocados here at Best Ugly Bagels.” The competition highlighted the versatility of avocados with mouth-watering recipes such as a scallop, bacon and avocado salad, an avocado, tomato, balsamic & watermelon salsa with crispy bacon and a tapas-style avocado addiction platter. New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular said the response to the competition had been fantastic. "We were so impressed by the calibre of dishes sent in and love that we had representation from cafes nationwide.” This season has produced the largest New Zealand avocado harvest on record. New Zealanders have already consumed over 40 million avocados and the season’s not over yet. Growth in demand for avocados in New Zealand has been phenomenal, never before have we seen such a large volume be consumed so quickly in New Zealand. Scoular points to a huge collaborative effort between avocado wholesale marketers, supermarkets and NZ Avocado over the past few seasons as helping to make consumers aware of avocados amazing health benefits and versatility. NZ Avocado Market Manager Bevan Jelley said NZ Avocado’s increased focus on social media is helping take engagement with everyday New Zealanders to new levels. "New Zealand’s best avocado café competition was great because it benefited consumers, cafes and New Zealand’s avocado growers.” Consumer demand for avocados continues to grow in both at-home use and the food service industry with avocado dishes, such as the famed avocado on toast, becoming increasingly popular on menus nationwide. "Demand for amazing avocados is very high because avocados hit three sweet spots for consumers – they’re healthy, they are super versatile and they taste great,” explains Scoular." New research on the specific nutrient properties of avocados from New Zealand is expected to produce exciting results in the months ahead.” Check out the video here  See the recipe here

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