A Northland business is setting up New Zealand's first joint venture avocado nursery operation in China amid an international boom for the fruit crop.
About $2 million worth of young avocado trees will be produced annually in the Chinese nursery joint venture set up by Maunu's Lynwood Nursery, west of Whangārei.
The venture is in Hunan province, south-central China. The venture's first Maunu-grown avocado "mother" seeds and budwood were flown from New Zealand to China in June this year to establish the new nursery. It is forecast to be producing half a million young avocado plants annually by 2022.
Lynwood Nursery director Stephen Wade said the move to China was a commercial business decision. The nursery is being set up to establish avocado orchards in China.
It will boost avocado production in a world market that can't get enough of the fruit.
Jen Scoular, New Zealand Avocado chief executive on October 5told growers and others at a Lynwood Nursery field day in Maunu that international avocado demand continues to outstrip supply.
"There's not enough supply to meet consumer demand," Scoular said.
Wade said the international avocado boom was significant.
"I've been through various planting booms in my time in the avocado industry, which goes back a long way (almost 40 years). This latest boom is the biggest," Wade said.
Lynwood Nursery is scoping other joint venture nursery opportunities in China - currently in Yunnan province in China's south west. It is planning to produce $2m worth of avocado trees annually from each of these joint ventures too.
Northern Hemisphere Chinese avocado crops are produced at the opposite time of the year from New Zealand's. China's harvest runs from February to August whilst Southern Hemisphere New Zealand's avocado harvest runs from August to February.
The business in April 2018 appointed a Maunu-based Chinese-speaking international business manager to assist with moving into the major Asian marketplace. Grace Shen has a Bachelor of Horticulture from China and a Massey University postgraduate diploma in agri-commerce.
It is also expanding a still small-scale joint venture in Japan.
Maunu-grown avocado plants will be flown to Japan in November to set up and trial that country's first large-scale outdoor avocado production. The enterprise is in Kagoshima in the south-east of Kyushu, the country's most southern island.
"This is very much cutting edge for Japan," Stuart Pascoe, Lynwood Nursery chief executive officer said.
Northern Hemisphere Japanese avocados are grown under cover for protection due to the high number of typhoons that hit the country - up to 17 in its annual May to November season.
The new Japanese venture's south eastern location has been chosen to minimise the risk from typhoons which predominantly come from the west. The outdoor orchard will be set up with intensive growing systems and trees pruned to just 2m tall as a way to help reduce typhoon wind damage risk.
The Maunu business has been in Japan since 2012. Avocado "mother" seeds for expanding the Japanese joint venture's nursery will also be going to Japan next month. Lynwood staff have just returned from Japan and will be travelling there again before the end of the month.
Lynwood Nursery will later this year run a two-day avocado workshop in Japan after 900 people expressed interest in wanting to know more about growing the crop – both indoors and outside.
NZ Avocado-registered Lynwood Nursery is set up on 12ha of volcanic land within view of Maunu Mountain, west of Whangārei. It has 40,000sq m of polyhouse - this season producing 156,000 young avocado plants - along with 8ha of intensively-grown avocado orchards.
The business is also working in other areas in the Northern Hemisphere. It is working on getting into Portugal, targeting Europe, Turkey and North Africa from there. It also has constant daily international enquiries from countries including India, Mauritius, Mongolia and Hawaii, United States, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.