With Hawke's Bay's booming apple industry growing at one million trees a year, growers are innovating to help deal with the demand for land - and a shortage of tree stakes.
Industrywide, about a million new trees are expected to be planted across the Bay every year for the next five years, with New Zealand's largest apple exporter T and G Global alone having planted about 230,000 new trees over two sites.
Almost 115,000 trees were planted at its Ebbett's orchard late last year.
T&G pipfruit general manager Bruce Beaton said the trees, including the Envy and Jazz varieties, were planted on the new-format Ebbett orchard in Puketapu which stretches across 47ha alongside the Tutaekuri River.
"The trees have been planted in a way to enable higher yielding by maximising land, water, sunshine hours and soil conditions."
Beaton said the format of the new orchard would enable workers to monitor trees more efficiently, with a first small crop expected to be harvested in the New Year.
"We've planted a mix of Envy, Jazz and Jugala [an early variety of the Royal Gala apple] for both domestic and international sale. Demand for Jazz and Envy has been steadily increasing and this new planting will enable us to continue to deliver trusted quality apples that consumers enjoy eating."
A further 113,000 had also been planted on a new 47ha leased block at Moteo.
"The orchard has been planted in a two-dimensional format rather than the usual three to ensure fruit has more access to light and delivers greater consistency of eating quality and is easier to pick. It's a common approach in Washington State and Italy but not so much in New Zealand," Beaton said.
"It's just another example of how the apple industry is continuing to evolve and place greater emphasis on land availability and natural resources with our new orchard using less water and power."
Bostock NZ orchards operations manager Craig Treneman said the company intended to plant 60,000 new trees this year and a further 70,000 the year after, as part of a plan to ensure about 150ha of coverage within the next three years.
"Some of the land are redevelopments of old orchards and also land is quite scarce at the moment so we have our property guys trying to get land for cropping. A lot of the old orchards are coming out and we're replanting with modern varieties."
The company was investing a "significant" amount into planting the new apple varieties which would lessen reliance on commodity apples and ensure an advantage in the market.
However, the demand to plant new trees also made it difficult to find new land.
"There's quite a waiting list. Nurseries are struggling to cope with demand at the moment for new trees. We have local nurseries, as well as nurseries in Nelson and up in Hamilton. Even posts, there's a shortage of posts at the moment."
Hawke's Bay Fruit Growers Association president Lesley Wilson said while it had been difficult to find "good" land for a couple of seasons, now there was also a shortage of tree posts.
"If production is being driven on to more marginal land then management has to be 100 per cent, so there are risks there - and yes, we are short of tree posts but we are working through various ways of supporting the trees while we are waiting for the posts to come in."