Kiwifruit Strap

''If you are good at your game, there is always opportunity.''

This is the philosophy Braden Hungerford swears by despite Psa destroying his family orchard in 2010.

''I think where we are sitting today it's very positive. I mean some of us went through a harder path than others did, but that is life.''

No one could really complain about where the industry was at the moment, he said.

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''It's a high-risk and hard-work industry. If you are not okay with risk and hard work you should not be in the industry.''

Standing in his orchard at Tauranga with workers picking in the background, Hungerford said he could not imagine doing anything else.

The leafy canopy he is standing under filters the sunlight while a mini tractor roars past laden with wooden crates of kiwifruit.

Today he has 42ha of kiwifruit spanning three orchards in different parts of the district.

The future of kiwifruit is looking bright says Braden Hungerford.

Production has doubled since Psa. He's bought orchards and redeveloped.

''I am confident about the future, but if Psa has taught you anything, you hold it quite lightly. Before Psa everyone thought they were bulletproof, but we have been at the mercy of biosecurity, and that is a big challenge going forward,'' he said.

''Now I don't think any of us are under any illusion that there won't be another biosecurity threat.''

Hungerford said the family orchard was in the first red zone in 2010 and they had to cut out 12ha before the new G3 gold swap-out.

Braden Hungerford in early 2011 on a block of once highly productive gold kiwifruit vines stripped of their fruit and canopy in an effort to control the spread of the vine disease Psa. Photo / File
Braden Hungerford in early 2011 on a block of once highly productive gold kiwifruit vines stripped of their fruit and canopy in an effort to control the spread of the vine disease Psa. Photo / File

''We cut our gold out with no comeback really and nowhere to go, so it was a reasonably stressful time. We were used to cutting orchards; you might cut out and put graft gold on so it's something you are not completely unfamiliar with. But the thing was we had nothing to graft to it.''

He said the initial thought was to get in front of Psa.

''No one really knew where it was so you were effectively trying to stop other people's orchards getting infected. The early guys cut out to keep the rest of them going.''

Unfortunately, the Hungerfords' only option at the time was to graft to Sweet Green.

''We knew gold was toast, so that was really hard. A lot of us grafted to Zespri's Sweet Green which is now a failed variety, it was essentially uneconomic, so some of the early guys were really disadvantaged. Then we had to buy our way out over time, which cost a fair bit.''

Grower Braden Hungerford (second left facing camera) explains to Minister of Agriculture David Carter in July 2011 how seriously Psa has affected his orchard. Photo / File
Grower Braden Hungerford (second left facing camera) explains to Minister of Agriculture David Carter in July 2011 how seriously Psa has affected his orchard. Photo / File

But Hungerford remains passionate about the industry and is in it for the long haul.

''I think I'm reasonably good at kiwifruit and I like that it's quite a primal thing you do working with nature. You also provide quite a lot of jobs for workers and the returns off the land are essentially better than any other crop.''