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ZESPRI invests in Waihi College Kiwifruit Orchard

Media Release March 27, 2006

ZESPRI invests in Waihi College Kiwifruit Orchard

Kiwifruit marketer ZESPRI International Ltd has signed a three-year contract with Waihi College to invest in the college’s Farm Unit.

Waihi College has a 1.4 ha kiwifruit orchard in its grounds, with one block used for trial work conducted by farm unit students, and the rest used to generate income to run the farm unit. ZESPRI’s contribution will go towards covering kiwifruit trial costs associated with the school’s orchard, while ZESPRI’s Innovation Programme will benefit from the students’ work, ZESPRI Chief Executive Tim Goodacre said.

As part of the new partnership, members of the ZESPRI Innovation team, HortResearch scientist Shirley Miller and kiwifruit consultant Barry Gregory will give advice to the students on what trials could be conducted.

“We hope that the experience the students gain from this trial programme will encourage them to pursue a career in horticulture. Fostering and supporting the students is one way ZESPRI International Limited can help create a sustainable future for the kiwifruit industry” Mr Goodacre said.

The funding would go a long way to helping build a strong future for the school’s Farm Unit, and add a new dimension to ZESPRI’s Innovation programme, Farm Unit Manager Clyde Smith said.

“Our agricultural courses offer the students a unique opportunity to gain research and development skills.

“The students are not treated as free labour units – they are there to learn valuable skills so by the time they get to University or Polytechnic the students will have a strong knowledge of kiwifruit, and we hope this will encourage them to look for employment within the kiwifruit industry.”

Farm Unit students are not the only ones benefiting from the funding. Five areas of the school are involved in the trials says Waihi College Principal Alistair Cochrane.

“Students from our Gifted and Talented (GAT) classes are involved in all areas of the trial. The horticulture and science students learn about the pitfalls and the need for accurate monitoring and recording, maths students learn about the need for accuracy, and how to look for patters and trends from their data, graphic art students design their work to target their clients and enhance the presentation and the English students learn how to collect relevant information from the maths and science groups to write the script and present,” Mr Cochrane said.

During 2005, under the guidance of Shirley Miller and Barry Gregory, the students set up an initial trial to see whether kiwifruit vines were less productive in the shade, meaning kiwifruit growers could remove shaded vines during pruning.

The trial showed that the flower to bud ratio was exactly double on the canes which were in the sun and the number of buds and percentage of productive buds was markedly higher on canes in the sun.

Kiwifruit consultant Barry Gregory was happy with the findings.

“Growers can make very informed decisions about which canes to cut out when pruning,” Mr Gregory said.

The trial findings were presented to 20 kiwifruit growers and industry experts at a ZESPRI Field Day in November 2005, and the group were impressed with the accuracy of the trial data presented.

ENDS

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