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Central Otago Young Fruit Grower starts this Friday

Six of Central Otago’s young fruit growers will face off in the Central Otago Young Fruit Grower of the Year competition in Cromwell on Friday, 24 May.

The champion will progress to the Young Grower of the Year national final, to be held in Tauranga in October. There, they will join the winners of the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, and Nelson regional fruit-grower competitions, as well as two Young Vegetable Growers, to see who will be named the national Young Grower of the Year 2019.

This year’s entrants are:

- Ian Dwyer, 22, orchard supervisor at Dunstan Hills Ltd

- Lyssa Jones, 24, compliance and safety coordinator at M A Orchards Ltd

- Tim Officer, 25, harvest manager at Dunstan Hills Ltd.

- Cam Smith, 25, orchard supervisor at Springvale Orchard

- Mervyn Van Der Lee, 21, machine operator at M A Orchards Ltd

- Ellen Watt, 23, compliance manager at Waitaki Orchards Ltd

Contestants will demonstrate their knowledge and skills around topics vital to the management of a successful orchard, including irrigation, pest and disease identification first aid, and soils. The winner will be decided at an awards dinner that evening, where they will present a speech to an audience from throughout the industry.

Prizes for the winner include free registration for the Summerfruit NZ and NZ Apples and Pears conferences, and an all-expenses paid trip to compete for the national 2019 Young Grower of the Year title in October. There are also prizes for the winners of each individual competition event, with a combined total of over $6000.

The Central Otago Young Fruit Grower competition is organised by Grant McKay, regional manager of Horticentre, who says the talent just keeps coming.

"Every year I’m amazed at the quality of contestants," says Grant. "This year is no different, and we expect a fantastic show of skills on Friday."

Mike Chapman, chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, says the competition is vital to encouraging young people within the industry.

"These contestants are the future of fruit growing in Central Otago," says Mike. "It’s always exciting to see our young industry leaders in action."

The Central Otago Young Fruit Grower competition will be held at the Horticulture Training Facility, Otago Polytechnic in Cromwell, on Friday 24 May, and the awards dinner will follow at The Moorings, Cromwell that evening.

For more information on the competition and tickets, visit


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