Free manuka seedling offer near 200 percent oversubscribed
Free manuka seedling offer nearly 200 percent oversubscribed
The offer of 1.8 million free manuka seedlings by Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand) in partnership with Manuka Farming New Zealand has proved hugely popular with applications totaling 5.2 million seedlings.
Manuka Farming New Zealand (MFNZ) General Manager Stephen Lee says they were overwhelmed by the huge interest for the seedlings. The initiative contributes to the Government’s One Billion Trees Programme.
“We had 1.8 million manuka trees available, which would cover about 1,635 hectares in plantings across New Zealand. Within a week we had 70 applications, totaling 3.6 million seedlings, and covering around 2,841 hectares.
“We now have a big huge task ahead of assessing potential plantations from Northland to Te Anau.”
Mr Lee said the first step is to assess the applications, followed by a series of site assessments to those selected based on size, suitability for planting, and availability of suitable manuka stock for that location.
Te Uru Rakau has contracted MFNZ to assess the suitability of sites for manuka to be planted this winter, and to organise the delivery of seedlings to landowners. MFNZ can also help landowners in the establishment of their manuka plantations.
Although there was no maximum limit on the size of potential plantation sites, ideally larger sites are more suitable as they produce higher quality manuka honey. The largest land parcel application was 480 hectares with the smallest at 0.5 hectares.
Mr Lee said a condition of the offer is landowners must be ready and committed to planting the manuka seedlings in 2018.
“Ideally the land is already free of weeds and pests as this will enable planting to take place between July and September,” Mr Lee said.
Although the seedlings are free, landowners are required to cover the costs of packing and dispatching the seedlings from the nursery, site preparation, including pest and weed control, fencing if required, planting costs and ongoing post-plant monitoring.
“MFNZ will be available to provide wrap-around services, including advice, co-ordination and management of planting to ensure greater growing success,” Mr Lee said.
“We have a large range of developed, tested and trialed high performance manuka varieties designed and tailored for specific regions, as well as eco-sourced varieties suitable for planting at or near their source.”
Mr Lee said the final decisions on which landowners will be offered mānuka will take a couple of weeks.
Those that miss out will get the opportunity to purchase high grade manuka seedlings for planting in 2019. The sale season for orders is now open and closes at the end of August.
Landowners not participating in this initiative can apply for funding through MPI programmes such as the Erosion Control Funding Programme.
MFNZ will also work with relevant councils and government agencies to help facilitate investment that could be available to landowners for planting.
Julie Collins, Head of Te Uru Rakau, says the offer 1.8 million manuka seedlings has been a huge success in identifying new plantation potential across New Zealand.
“We are thrilled with the strong interest by landowners keen to plant mānuka,” says Ms Collins.
“We now want to ensure we all get the very best possible outcomes, by ensuring the right manuka seedlings are matched to the land. MFNZ has experience and expertise in this area.”
About Manuka Farming New Zealand (MFNZ)
MFNZ was formed in 2011 as a result of a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme called High-Performance Manuka Plantations. Through a seven year programme of research and pilot plantations, new knowledge has been developed about how to establish and manage high performing manuka plantations for the production of medical grade manuka honey. MFNZ was established to make that knowledge available to landowners.
MFNZ contains shareholding representing strong primary sector and apiary interests, including Comvita NZ Limited; Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, DC and CY Tweeddale Partnership; Nukuhau Carbon Limited; Landcorp Farming Limited and Te Tumu Paeroa.
The partnership has 15 manuka a trial sites on 400ha across New Zealand. These sites have been monitored for manuka survival, growth, floral density and nectar quantity and production, stocking rates, pest and weed issues, nectar production and honey production.
MFNZ provides consultancy services on the establishment of manuka plantations, including initial assessment, site visits, development of master plans on plantation and apiary establishment and management, and financial forecasting, plantation and apiary establishment, monitoring and honey harvesting.
MFNZ has delivered some positive results from its trial plantations. It is now working with many landowners around New Zealand predominantly in the North Island.