Bay of Plenty's top young horticulture talent is set to battle it out next month for the title of Young Grower of the Year 2015.
Craig Ward, from Katikati, triumphed over seven local young fruit growers to be crowned the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower 2015 in June.
The technical advisor from Apata Group Limited will be looking to impress judges as he goes up against three other fruit growers and one vegetable grower for the national title, during the final, run by Horticulture New Zealand in Christchurch on August 13.
Mr Ward and the young fruit grower finalists from Otago, Nelson and Hawke's Bay will also be competing for the Young Fruit Grower of the Year 2015 title.
"Once again, the competition has attracted an incredible degree of talent. We can't wait to see the range of skills and knowledge the competitors will bring to this year's final," said Julian Raine, President of Horticulture New Zealand.
"Now in its seventh year, the Young Grower of the Year competition continues to be about supporting young people in the horticulture industry and recognising their exceptional abilities. It gives us huge confidence in the future of the industry and no matter what the outcome, each finalist has such a promising career ahead of them. We are looking forward to seeing what they do on the day."
The final will see the competitors go head-to-head in a series of practical and theoretical challenges, designed to replicate those faced in an orchard or on-farm working environment.
The finalists also take part in a leadership panel-discussion, before delivering a speech in front of the judges at a dinner event, where the winner is announced.
Young Grower of the Year 2014, Patrick Malley, said that the competition is a fantastic way to form relationships within the industry.
"The competitors are seen as future leaders in the industry so the opportunity to interact with those currently leading the way in horticulture is immensely valuable. I also really enjoyed meeting the other competitors who, since the competition, have really become my colleagues and peers in driving the industry."
"The organisers do an exceptional job of making each year's competition unique. I can't wait to see what this years' finalists will show us."
The final of Young Grower of the Year will take place at Rydges Latimer, in Christchurch on 13 August 2015.