Bay of Plenty grower Nick Coughlan believes the New Zealand industry is poised for a major shake-up. The grower/businessman believes a change is coming, and it’s being driven by challenges facing the industry around fruit quality. Science, Nick says, is likely to play a major role in helping the industry transform.
He points to the kiwifruit industry’s response to vine-killing disease Psa as an example of how science can lead to positive change.
Nick and his wife Louise, an accountant, are in their third season on their orchard in Whakamarama, north of Tauranga. While still relatively new to the craft of growing avocados, their vast business experience in other fields means they’re not afraid to ask tough questions or search for new or better ways of doing things.
“I see a lot of opportunity because the industry is still in its infancy in New Zealand,” says Nick. “It will grow and the services, science and suppliers wrapped around it will grow with it.”
Low-lying and only about 10 metres above sea level at the end of Stewart Rd, the 3ha orchard had changed hands several times and was under-performing when the couple leased it in 2017. Most of the 320 avocado trees on the property are more than 30 years old and are surrounded by established shelter.
Management changes are already showing encouraging signs of success. In their first season the orchard produced 6400 trays, and the second season of 2018-2019 generated more than 10,000 trays from 150 bins. That equated to close to 20 tonne/ha. This season, the couple were hoping to pick about 140 bins.
With his strong business background, Nick is realistic about the competitive challenges lying ahead for exporters. However, Nick believes Avoco is well-placed to weather any storm.