Chairman’s report 2003

By David Murdoch, Interim Chairman

HGA newsletter, summer 2003

Welcome to all members of the Hazelnut Growers Association. The setting up of an association takes a considerable amount of time and effort and I would like to thank all those who helped get the ball rolling. The transition from Southern Nut Growers Association has been reasonably smooth and their grant of $500 is appreciated. Likewise we are very grateful for the early support from the hazelnut action group to help with some of the setup costs.

Since our inauguration the committee has had several meetings and along with the basic administration details there has been considerable discussion about the initial direction the Association needs to head in. Feed back from members indicated a desire for communication between growers, and some answers to the problem of yield variability with Whiteheart.

I am delighted with the effort that Dave Null has put in to come up with the newsletter as this is the most valuable means of communication we can have, so thank you Dave. The production of the newsletter is designed to fit in with the seasonal issues of Health in a Shell and will be sent out as an insert. This allows us to publish larger articles in the journal while catering for in house association news etc. in the newsletter.

With regards to research the committee feels the most important area to focus on at present is the yield profile of Whiteheart as there appears to be quite a variation between orchards. The committee is currently investigating past research and hopes to work with Lincoln University on any new research initiatives. However funding of any research is a major hurdle. The committee feels that perhaps the best initial step is to setup a program on a number of orchards to study such things as soils, fertilizer inputs, irrigation, pollinators, etc. etc. in an attempt to find out why some orchards yield better than others. In other words to come up with a set of best practice orchard management guidelines. We feel this could be a cost-effective way of improving Whiteheart yields. So at some stage this year we will be calling on a number of growers to help out with this.

The committee has also discussed the possibility of a hazelnut conference/seminar. This would be an ideal way to bring growers together and to disseminate information.

David Murdoch
Interim Chairman

AGM Field Trips 2010

Les McCracken

HGA newsletter July 2010

Field trips were held in South Canterbury in association with the AGM. On Saturday, about 50 people attended a field-day at Linda and Les McCracken’s orchard at Ashburton where the focus was on harvesting tools. This included a demonstration of the Italian harvester imported by Les and Linda earlier this year, as well as a sweeper designed and manufactured in Oamaru for Tim and Judith Medlicott.
The McCrackens imported the Super Jolly 2800 after seeing it while at the Hazelnut Congress in Italy in 2008. The complete unit cost approximately $29000 including freight. It uses mechanical pickup, rather than suction, to avoid blockages, and screens out soil and trash. A key advantage for the McCrackens is that the unit can be operated by one person.

Les reported that the machine coped well with loose surface material, and sorted this from the crop very effectively – very little rubbish was collected with the nuts. The harvester achieved about 2.8 hours per hectare, and Les believes this can be further improved with some minor modifications to block layout.

The machine has an operating width of 2.8 m (harvester 1.8 m, side sweeper 1 m) and is front-mounted onto a tractor with a minimum PTO requirement of 12.5 kW. The manufacturer also offers smaller and less sophisticated units. For more details, see the full report on the website.

Les McCracken’s Super Jolly 2800 harvester

Field trips on Sunday included visits to the properties of Terry and Christine Hutton, and Murray and Linda Cannon.

AGM report 2010

By Sarah Shore

HGA newsletter July 2010

The 2010 Annual General Meeting of the Hazelnut Growers’ Association was held on 3 June 2010 at Ashburton and attended by about 60 members.

In addition to the President’s Report (see above), Murray Redpath delivered a presentation on issues facing growers and the industry as a whole. This sparked an extensive discussion on the role of HGA and the future of the organisation and the industry. Key questions were:

• What is the role of HGANZ in developing the local industry, and how does that complement the activities of commercial enterprises?

• How can we make hazelnuts a viable crop for existing and potential new growers – focusing on a domestic or export market? If we target exports, which are our likely markets? (Bearing in mind that US growers now export most of their crop to Asia, particularly Hong Kong and Viet Nam.)

• What varieties would best support the selected growth strategy? (At present, new plantings are overwhelmingly Whiteheart, but US exports are mainly in-shell.)

Chairman’s report 2010

By Murray Redpath

Delivered to the HGA AGM, 3 June 2010

In late October I attended the annual conference of the Hazelnut Growers of Australia and gave a talk on “The Development of the NZ Hazelnut Industry”. I spent a few days before the conference staying with Basil and Jean Baldwin in central New South Wales. Basil and Jean visited Canterbury in 2006 and spoke at the HGANZ AGM. Basil is semi-retired but still does some work at the Charles Sturt University in Orange. One of his recently completed projects was a guide to the identification of hazelnut varieties grown in Australia.

The last year has been busy for the Hazelnut Growers Association of NZ, with an active research programme, organizing a visit by an overseas hazel adviser, and maintaining the flow of information via the website and newsletters. Your committee has continued to hold meetings via email whenever a meeting has been required. These seem to work well and are being refined as we develop the system. If detailed discussions are needed, then telephone conference calls are now very competitively priced.

My thanks to all the committee members. Jenny has kept our meetings well recorded and Sarah has provided you all with interesting informative newsletters, as well as trying to keep the Growers Manual on track. Thanks to you all for your dedication to growing this organization.

Some committee members have chosen not to stand for reappointment this year. Alan wishes to step down as treasurer, having done an excellent job in this position since the formation of HGANZ. Thank you for your contribution, Alan, and the many field days and Annual General Meeting weekends that you have organized. Willy wishes to stand down from the committee but is willing to stay on as webmaster, an offer we will accept given his skills in this area. Linda. Thanks for your help and especially the copies of the Acta Hort. hazel proceedings. I am wading my way through them and will summarize the most relevant papers for the newsletter. Blake. Thanks for your help and offer to assist with any orchard trials. David Null has ended a long association with the HGANZ committee. Thank you, David, for your dedication over the last eight years.

We need a certain number of members on the committee to carry out the day to day administration, but I hope that we can call on other members with special areas of expertise to help with specific tasks. For example, if we continue to apply for research grants, then a separate research subcommittee would be useful to administer all projects rather than having separate committees formed for each application.

Indications are that the last harvest was the largest ever for most growers. Time will tell whether this increased yield is due largely to increased maturity of the orchards or to good growing season. However, the increased crop of the last two years has certainly highlighted the need to look at efficient harvesting systems and how to market an increasing crop.

It is difficult for small industries to access significant research funding and the the recent budget does not seem to assist us at all. It was pleasing to see that the MAF Sustainable Farming Fund has received increased funding after last year’s cuts. I will briefly summarize our research progress here and we can discuss the projects in more detail after the AGM. The seven pollination workshops held last winter as part of the Sustainable Farming Fund project on hazel pollination were well attended by 155 HGANZ and NZTCA members, plus members of the general public. Thanks to all those members who hosted or helped run the workshops. This project continues, with the second part on identifying hazel varieties nearly complete. The final report is due at the end of June.

We have continued to move our research programme forward by successfully applying for a further grant from the MAF Sustainable Farming Fund. This 3 year project, titled “Establishing polliniser recommendations and realistic yield data for NZ hazelnut orchards” will collect and analyze data on flowering times and yields. The aim is to find out what is actually happening out in your orchards. This will help identify possible factors influencing the performance of your orchards to allow us to provide better advice. It will also help to identify areas that require more research. Success in this project is very dependent on growers willingness to collect and contribute flowering and yield information.

The HGANZ assisted to bring Professor Jeff Olsen to New Zealand to attend the 2010 NZ Tree Crops Association conference. A meeting for HGANZ members was arranged for Easter Monday at the BHU facility at Lincoln. This was well attended by 33 members despite the short notice given. I hope that members benefited from the visit. Professor Olsen has given permission to use the material contained in his presentations, with suitable acknowledgement. I would welcome any feedback on this visit to help improve the benefits of future visits by overseas speakers.

Professor Olsen’s airfares and conference costs were sponsored by Agmardt, the Wellington branch of NZTCA, and HGANZ. The pre-and post – conference trips were sponsored by Wairata Forest Farm. Thanks to Malcolm and Sarah Shore, Sjef and Sonja Lamers, Malcolm and Jenny Horwell, Les and Linda McCracken, and Toni Elliot for their hospitality during these trips. Also, thanks to all the growers who allowed us to visit their orchards for their wonderful hospitality.

I attended the annual conference of the Hazelnut Growers of Australia in late October last year, giving a presentation on “The development of the NZ hazelnut Industry”. I was able to visit some of the research sites and talk with Basil Baldwin and Lester Snare who have carried out most of the hazel research in Australia. Their industry is much the same size as ours but they are better resourced and able to access reasonable funding for research. They can also leverage off the work carried out by the other larger Australian nut industries. Australia is a large and wealthy market but it is also a potential competitor with plans for large plantings in Tasmania.

It is encouraging to see the rise in membership over the last two years. Our membership subscription is modest compared to other similar organizations and the increased membership allows increased options when trying to access funding for projects. We do need to consider the changes occurring in the industry and how best to respond to them. When the HGANZ was formed in 2002, most of its members were in Canterbury. Our members are now spread throughout the South Island. How do we provide the service that our members want? What services do they want? What is the role of the HGANZ within the NZ hazelnut industry? Should we be defining our role, our goals, and drawing up a strategic plan to reach those goals?

Let us consider those questions after the AGM.

Chairman’s report, 2011

Delivered to the 2011 AGM, 3 June 2011

By Murray Redpath

Earthquakes and extreme weather events, both in New Zealand and globally, will have dominated our thoughts over the last year. Christchurch and Canterbury will never be the same and our best wishes for a timely recovery go out to all those affected by the quake and the continuing fallout. The hazel industry escaped any physical damage but the economic repercussions are likely to mean limited access to Government assistance in the immediate future.

Our industry is maturing and facing the sort of challenges that all new crops face as they grow and have to move into new market sectors. As usual, moving into markets that require large quantities move us into those sectors where prices are determined by international market prices and that price is usually lower than in local niche markets. We have to ensure that we are cost efficient growers to supply these markets and still be profitable.

To be cost efficient growers we need to be sure that we are managing our orchards correctly and to do that we need information on as many factors that influence our nut yields and quality as we can collect. Please support our research projects so we can find out what is happening in our orchards and provide accurate advice back to all growers.

We are part of a global market and we cannot ignore developments in hazel industries overseas or assume that they will not impact our local markets. New confidence in the Oregon hazel industry has seen around 400 hectares planted annually over the last 3 years. That is about the size of our total industry. Chile is still planting large areas and has gained access to “Tonda Pacifica”, the latest release from the Oregon breeding programme. Tonda Pacifica “combines the desirable kernel quality of Tonda Gentile delle Langhe with higher yield, thinner shells, lower susceptibility to bud mites and fewer defects.” This variety is susceptible to EFB so will not be grown in Oregon but is being protected by patents and is clearly targeted at the Chilean industry to provide additional revenue streams for the Oregon State University breeding programme.

There has been interest in New Zealand nuts from several Chinese interests this year. This is a trend worldwide. China is now the largest or second largest consumer of all the major nut crops. At the Australian Nut Industry Council conference in March of this year, there was a very interesting presentation by Cheng Hung Kay of CHK Trading Co. Ltd of Hong Kong. Titled “Why do the Chinese eat so many nuts?”, this presentation contains a very interesting set of graphs of Chinese nut imports since 2000 that show quite clearly the significant rise in Chinese imports of all nut species since 2007. For hazels, there is an average importation of about 15,000 metric tons for the period 2000 to 2009. Last year this soared to more than 33,000 metric tons.

Hazelnut imports into China, 2000-2010

If we consider that India, with a large vegetarian population, is also increasing nut imports then surely there is an opportunity for future growth of our industry. However, we need to be able to grow hazels in a cost effective manner and be able to supply the correct varieties for these markets. Our research work is an important start to achieving these aims.

I would like to thank the committee for their dedication over the past year. The e-meetings are being refined and appear to be working well. Our finances are in a healthy state. The website has just had a “members only” section added (thanks Willy) and we hope to be able to add a steady flow of new information to that section. Sarah, our very capable newsletter editor, wishes to pass that job on. Thanks for your hard work and also your advice and feedback during committee meetings and general discussions.

Looking forward, we have a group of innovative growers experimenting with improving harvesting methods, building equipment, and marketing their crops. There are challenges – how do we profitably market the increased crop, how do we as an organization ensure that information flows through all our members and to all growing regions when travel costs continue to increase? As always, your committee would welcome your comments and ideas.

Murray Redpath, June 3rd, 2011

AGM Weekend 2011

A series of field days were held around Nelson, in conjunction with the 2011 Annual General Meeting on 4 June.

By Jenny Darragh

HGA newsletter – August 2011

As part of the AGM and Field day at Queen’s Birthday Weekend, a damp Saturday morning found about 30 members at Irene & Phil Hickford’s orchard to a warm welcome and morning tea. The Hickfords have around 800 hazelnut trees 4-6 years old. These are mixed varieties of Whiteheart, Tonda Romano, Barcelona, Merveille de Bollwiller. As we admired the immaculate orchard, Phil explained that he keeps the suckers under control weekly with a $99 mini hedge trimmer and this suppressed the growth of the suckers.

Phil uses a Cifarelli backpack harvester that he has modified to make it easier to use and has it mounted on a trolley. He uses a nut cracker and a separator made by a local engineering company to process the nuts for the local farmers and church markets. To ensure maximum freshness and to prevent nuts oxidising, he vacuum packs the nuts and believes that presentation is very important. Phil recommends letting people sample nuts and has plenty of repeat sales through internet and phone. For more details visit his website at
We adjourned to Brightwater for a lunch that was great value both in content and amusement. The inventive Flat Whites were a lost photo opportunity! The AGM followed at the nearby Brightwater Community church hall.

On Sunday morning we visited Ross and Janet Wood’s orchard in Waimea West. The mainly Whiteheart trees are around 17 years old. The Woods were concerned about overcrowding and thought trees may need to be removed. Murray Redpath found they were healthy trees with at least 15 cm extension of new growth and were cropping well. He suggested Ross and Janet remove lower branches that were protruding into the rows, and also remove some inside branches to let more light in. In some cases a chainsaw would be needed. For the problem of harvesting, Murray suggested they use suspended nets. This is a big outlay to start with but makes the harvesting cleaner and easier, particularly on a small block such as this. Any nuts that are still unharvested are now likely to be of poor quality, and could be put through a chipper on low speed to be used as chicken or stock feed. Janet and Ross had a great variety of other nut trees including pecan, walnut and macadamia.

Later that morning we looked around Terry and Sandra Westbury’s orchard in Redwoods Valley. The property was originally an apple orchard. As the trees have been removed they have been replaced over ten years with hazelnut trees. While having a welcome morning tea, we had a chance to look at their Giffoni Nocchione harvester. The machine removes husks, twigs and blanks so the nuts come out clean and can be put straight into bags to be sorted later. They have washed the nuts in a bath in the past but are looking for an alternative. Murray discussed the importance of cleaning the nuts and this needs to be done twice. Once for a clean and once with a dilute bleach to disinfect as there is a risk of cross contamination from bird and rodent droppings and animal faeces (if stock has been in the orchard). As regulations become more enforced in the food industry this will soon become a necessity.

There was a discussion about drying the nuts – The faster the drying, the better the quality of the nuts. Flowering in the orchard was apparent and Murray said that because the autumn had been mild, data information should now be recorded to enable the success of research to find the most suitable pollinisers in various regions.

After a delicious lunch at Mapua we visited Toni Elliott and Smoky Fry’s orchard near Motueka. They have 1000 Whiteheart, Alexandra, Merveille de Bollwiller, Butler and Barcelona trees that are approximately 10 years old. Because of the climate in Nelson, the management of suckers involves constant spraying – every 1 ½ weeks. With the high rainfall and lack of opportunity to spray, the suckers can grow to enormous heights in a short time. Smoky and Toni remove these with a chainsaw and sell these as tomato stakes.

Suckers destined for use as tomato stakes

Toni keeps excellent records of her orchard so is able to say how much each tree yields and whether a tree is useful or needs to be replaced. They use a concrete mixer for a brief wash with great success as it will wash a sack of nuts at a time. The afternoon ended with afternoon tea and a chat. This was a very successful and enjoyable weekend and our thanks and congratulations for the efforts of Darrell and Karen Johnson and the Nelson members.