New Zealand Avocado had fun over the past few weeks co-hosting field days in Katikati, as well as South Auckland and Te Puke.
We're very grateful to have arranged to meet growers in three beautiful orchards and extend our appreciation to the growers who hosted their fellow growers.
The field days are a very good way to learn about the fickle avocado tree and how it grows in New Zealand conditions.
Growing avocados is a commitment, and with no perfect solution to how to grow them.
The field days allows other growers to see the things that have gone well, and the things that didn't go so well.
New Zealand Avocado co-hosts these field days with a packer or exporter, but the invitation to attend is open to all growers, or potential growers.
We've had good feedback from growers saying they like attending the field days and enjoy seeing how other packers report and engage with their growers.
We had a fantastic turn out from growers with more than 100 in attendance at each of our Bay of Plenty events and it was great to hear the positive feedback from all involved.
The networking is important. Many growers only meet at organised events, even when they live quite close to each other, and new growers enjoy very much being able to chat with more experienced growers.
It was lovely to see some very young potential growers too - as we held one of the field days during the school holidays and the orchard owner was happy to host a few youngsters too.
It's always interesting to see the variability of growing conditions across different avocado growing regions and learn about the range of practices put in place by growers to get the best production and avocado quality from their orchard.
We always include a question and answer session with the grower and a favourite question is; "What do you enjoy most about growing avocados?"
Many suggest the lifestyle, especially those who have come from dairying, enjoying the less rigid requirements of an avocado orchard. One especially enjoyed the challenge of the fickle avocado tree, suggesting every tree was different and trees never regularly behaved as you expected.
Field days are a great opportunity to support the education of growers and to facilitate growers meeting each other, to develop a collaborative industry environment to benefit all.
At each field day we had sessions covering industry updates, market updates, harvest discussions, health and safety and pollination practices.
Field days are also attended by the wider New Zealand Avocado team. Our two new staff members - industry analyst Tyler Keenlyeside and market manager Anna Farquharson - both attended their first field days and reported it was a great chance to learn about the on-orchard management practices and meet members from the wider industry.
New Zealand Avocado enjoys seeing our growers out on the orchard and seek feedback on topics they'd like discussed at future field days.
We're also open to growers who offer to host a field day. I think the growers also get good value as they get lots of different opinions about how their orchard is looking and what might improve performance.
Field days confirm the view that we still have more to learn about the perfect way to grow avocados in New Zealand.