New Zealand Program Aims for Higher Yields

A project aimed at increasing olive oil yields in New Zealand from the growth stage is progressing as planned, with organizers hoping to see an increased market share of Kiwi olive oil as a result of their efforts.

Attendees at the Northland Field Day held in November (Olives New Zealand)
Jan. 16, 2017
By Mary Hernandez
Attendees at the Northland Field Day held in November (Olives New Zealand)

Recent News

This year looks to bring great progress to New Zealand’s Focus Grove Project, an ini­tia­tive aim­ing to increase the mar­ket share for locally pro­duced olive oil by iden­ti­fy­ing basic grove man­age­ment prac­tices to enable the indus­try to con­sis­tently lift the pro­duc­tiv­ity of fruit per hectare and thus also reduce costs.”

The project to increase the mar­ket share for Kiwi olive oil will run until late next year and hopes to improve olive grove man­age­ment prac­tices using financ­ing from the Sustainable Farming Fund and mem­bers of Olives New Zealand as well as pri­vate dona­tions.

Along with the increase in pro­duc­tion, there has been a reduc­tion in pro­duc­tion costs because of bet­ter economies of scale.- Gayle Sheridan, Olives NZ

Typically, New Zealand pro­duced olive oil makes up less than 10 per­cent of the local mar­ket share, with the coun­try con­sum­ing a respectable 4 mil­lion liters of olive oil annu­ally (of which imported oil makes up the major­ity).

New Zealand’s 400,000 plus trees are capa­ble of pro­duc­ing at least half that amount, but the cur­rent pro­duc­tion makes up less than a quar­ter of that fig­ure — leav­ing a siz­able gap in pro­duc­tion.

While local pro­duc­ers have made efforts in the past to try increase yield, fac­tors such as dis­ease and poor weather con­di­tions have cre­ated obsta­cles. The Focus Grove Project, there­fore, hopes to increase pro­duc­tion by tack­ling pro­duc­tiv­ity issues as well as cost struc­tures.

Advertisement

Researchers behind the group sug­gest that efforts should be made to con­trol wet weather leaf fun­gus dis­eases in order to retain healthy leaves and improve growth, fruit and flow­er­ing in the future. Better prun­ing of the trees has been rec­om­mended in order to size and shape each tree to get the max­i­mum amount of required sun­light within each canopy.

In November last year, the first review and rec­om­men­da­tions were made after site vis­its, with a goal set to increase pro­duc­tion by 10 kg per tree. During these vis­its, project con­sul­tants also held Field Days, where local olive grow­ers could get advice on spray­ing pro­grams and prun­ing meth­ods, and advice on how to avoid on-off cycles as well as bet­ter dis­ease con­trol prac­tices.

Later this year, the sites will be revis­ited to see if each is on track to reach its goal.

Gayle Sheridan, the exec­u­tive offi­cer of Olives New Zealand told Olive Oil Times the project is pro­gress­ing as expected. With the Focus Groves now into their sec­ond year of fol­low­ing the rec­om­mended pro­gram of canopy man­age­ment and dis­ease man­age­ment, we are see­ing their har­vest ton­nage achiev­ing 15 to 20kg per tree com­pared with less than 10kg which is the national aver­age. Along with the increase in pro­duc­tion, there has been a reduc­tion in pro­duc­tion costs because of bet­ter economies of scale, Sheridan said.”

If all goes as plan, the project hopes to see increases in pro­duc­tion per tree from 10kg to 15kg per tree in September, with the final vis­its and reviews tak­ing place in March 2018.



Related News