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Bostock New Zealand aims to capture organic onion export opportunities

Bostock New Zealand aims to capture huge untapped export opportunities for Southern Hemisphere organic onions using the latest technology, growing systems and expertise out of Europe.

Bostock New Zealand’s owner John Bostock said worldwide, the demand for organic onions is huge, especially in Europe where there is a major gap in supply before its domestic crop comes on the market.

“However, the challenge for us is to make it economically viable to grow and export organic onions from New Zealand so our international customers have a year-round supply of higher valued, premium quality, GM Free organic produce."

International organic student Talis Bosma, pictured, from the Netherlands is working with the local Bostock New Zealand Team with mechanical weeding in the background.

To help, Bostock New Zealand has invested in the international expertise of Talis Bosma, a top student from an organic agricultural college in the Netherlands, who is working alongside the experienced local team on a field trial of organic onions on 2.7ha leased from the Peacock family in Twyford, Hastings. 

Along with successfully growing organic onions, Mr Bostock said the aim of the field trial was to transfer the knowledge gained across the company’s conventional crops.

Bostock New Zealand’s organic onions growing on the fertile Heretaunga Plains, in Twyford, Hastings, New Zealand.

“This is all part of Bostock New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to leading the world with improved, sustainable growing practices and protecting the environment, he said.

“The biggest challenge when growing onions is weed and pest control, which is why conventional growing methods rely so heavily on a spray regime to make it economical to export in large volumes.  

“We’re confident, through this trial, we will be able to reduce, if not eliminate, the high dependency sprays, he said.

Bostock New Zealand Growing Manager Chris Zuiderwikj inspects the organic onion trail growing on the fertile Heretaunga Plains, in Twyford, Hastings, New Zealand.

Bostock New Zealand’s Growing Manager Chris Zuiderwijk said it was critical to create a stale seedbed so the onions can grow weed free. 

“We invested in a new state of the art weed flamer to burn off the existing weeds, then cultivated the top layer of the paddock using a new finger tine weeder to carefully remove any weed seeds.  

“We planted the onions on October 13 and then did another round of flame weeding just before the plants came through the soil.

State of the Art Flame Burner technology is prepare the stale soil bed ready for sowing the organic onions.

To combat onions’ susceptibility to Downy mildew, Mr Zuiderwikj said Bostock New Zealand had sourced a disease resistant seed.  

Depending on the growing season, the Thrips insect might be a problem, and that was all part of the trial, he said.

“The crop’s growing well and we plan to harvest in late February.  We are confident the trial will be successful and are committed to turning it into a full scale export production next season,” he said. 

Bostock New Zealand has also used the new technology on some of its squash to help with weed control and limiting spraying.

The company's apples are all organic or in conversion to organic, with the aim of having all Bostock New Zealand's crops grown 100% organic in the future.

For more information:
Anna Lorck 
Bostock New Zealand 
Tel: +64 021 2886 771

Publication date: 12/22/2017


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