NZ Avocado presents 2017-18 service and grower awards

NZ Avocado presents 2017-18 service and grower awards at the New Zealand Avocado International Industry conference 2018.

The New Zealand Avocado International Industry conference gala dinner provided a great platform to recognise longstanding contributors to the New Zealand avocado industry and celebrate the success of individual grower success over this past season. This recognition was acknowledged through a number of service and grower awards for 2017-18.

Two service to industry awards were presented to recognise service and achievement to the avocado sector. The recipients of these awards were Helen Gray and William (Bill) F.T. Hartill.

Helen has been involved in the avocado and kiwifruit post-harvest industry for over twenty years. As an active participant at an avocado industry governance level contributes to avocado quality, EMS, AvoGreen and market access discussions. Helen made a significant contribution to the industry in the China audit of avocado packing facilities and procedures for the export of New Zealand avocados with her attention to detail key to the success of the project.

Originally from the UK, Bill immigrated to New Zealand in 1969. Bill’s research was paramount to our understanding of post-harvest rots with his work identifying key rot pathogens and that avocados were susceptible from infection from the time of fruit set through to harvest. Bill’s significant work on spray trials helped the industry ascertain what was necessary to adequately control a range of pathogens.

The NZ Avocado Growers’ Association recognises and acknowledges both Helen’s and Bill’s contribution to the NZ avocado industry and honours them as recipients of the Service to Industry Award.

The New Zealand Avocado Award is the industry’s highest service award. It acknowledges and recognises contributions to the avocado sector that change or alter the business resulting in advancement forward in the avocado sector. This was awarded to Asbhy Whitehead.

Ashby was an elected NZAGA representative on the Board from 2006 to 2017 and in 2013 was elected Chair of the Board and held this position until 2017. Under Ashby’s leadership as Chair of the industry, he had a single mantra – does it make the board go faster? Ashby pushed for growth, supported management in seeking external funding that would support that growth and sought focussed research to improve productivity. The NZ avocado industry with Ashby at the helm, has well and truly delivered on the industry vision and strategic objective.

The NZ Avocado Growers Association recognises and acknowledges Ashby Whitehead’s vision, commitment and drive for the NZ avocado industry and honours him as a recipient of the New Zealand Avocado Award.

Grower awards were introduced three years ago to recognise those growers with outstanding production and consistency. The grower awards given are highest production, most consistent grower and top grower. Awards are determined by data that includes all fruit that is packed in a registered packhouse and the hectare information provided by growers during their registration. To be eligible for an award, the orchard must be at least 1.5 hectares in size.

The highest production award goes to the grower with the highest tons per hectare from a PPIN. For the 2017-18 season, highest production was awarded to Bridget Maher, Lee Crawshaw and Sharlene Darragh with exceptional production of 34.8 tonnes per hectare.

NZ Avocado use an irregular bearing index (IBI) to decide on our most consistent grower award winners. The IBI is calculated by dividing the difference between the previous two crops from an orchard by the sum of those two crops. Orchards with production increases for three consecutive seasons are said to have an IBI of 0. This past season 89 orchards achieved an IBI of 0. To decide on the winner of this award we look at the orchard with an IBI of 0 and the highest four-year average production.

For the 2017-18 season the most consistent grower is awarded to Kevin Thomas and Dani O’Connor with an IBI of 0 and four-year average production of 20.2 tonnes per hectare.

The top grower award is presented to the grower who has the highest four-year average production. Despite a lower production this past season, taking out the top grower award for a third consecutive year is Maria and Andrew Watchorn, with an outstanding four-year average production of 26.5 tonnes per hectare.

Thank you to all who attended to celebrate the success of these growers and outstanding contributors to the Avocado industry. We congratulate again the well deserving recipients of all awards.

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