Jen's Pick: Visiting avocado country

By Jen Scoular

NZ Avocado chairman Ashby Whitehead and Jen Scoular with King Avocado growers, Alistair and Claudia in Northland.
NZ Avocado chairman Ashby Whitehead and Jen Scoular with King Avocado growers, Alistair and Claudia in Northland.

I had a terrific week last week, going literally from one end of the country to the other.

Sweeping over the country in perfect weather that only reinforced the amazing land in which we live - and grow avocados.

We're updating our category story collateral, working with a photographer who is capturing this beauty from a drone over the Bay of Plenty.

It's a very pleasant job reviewing photos of avocado orchards set on the shores of our magnificent turquoise blue harbour, with Mauao in the background.

It's a very hard job deciding which most perfectly reflects the story we are telling our overseas customers and consumers.

How much of the orchard should be captured versus that beautiful water? Should Mauao have some significance in our story?

I also captured on film some lovely shots of our largest orchard, King Avocado in Houhora in Northland.

Ashby Whitehead our Chair Marisa and I were hosted by Alistair and Claudia and offered an excellent tour of this impressive 143-hectare orchard, planted over the last 10 years.

The landscape is hillier than we would conventionally expect for avocados, but the intention is that trees are kept small so harvesting can be done from the ground.

The orchard is looking great, and it's a perfect time to see avocado orchards, with strong summer growth, and that lovely blush-coloured new growth.

We held a roadshow the previous evening at the Houhora Fishing Club. The Board had a strategy session in November and will have another one in March, so we are seeking grower feedback into where they see the industry going, and the direction they would like the Board to set for the industry.

Feedback to date seems to support the current direction, although with a smaller crop expected in 2017-18 the focus on finding a solution to irregular bearing needs to stay at the top of the list of research activity.

We are holding a discussion group with growers in Whangarei and in Katikati, both to provide feedback to the March Board meeting.

We visited Olivado, the avocado oil company in Kerikeri.

Olivado uses process grade avocados to make wonderful avocado oil, which is a great addition to salads, but also good to cook with due to its high burning temperature. We have several companies in New Zealand making avocado oil - all of them keen to get their hands on more avocados as global demand for avocado oil is increasing strongly.

My trip south to Queenstown wasn't avocado-related - but a big trip for me.

My friend had talked me into entering the Motatapu 42km off-road marathon, and it was with trepidation that I flew down for that huge challenge.

The marathon and bike events are run across three privately owned farms, open only for this annual event, and includes some pretty big climbs as well as river crossings.

I am very proud to say I crossed the line in exactly six hours, coming eighth in my category, and can safely say I have crossed that off my list and will never even think about doing it again. It was very tough!

- Katikati Advertiser

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