Pyper’s Produce is one of New Zealand’s largest fresh export carrot growers and the South Island’s largest domestic supplier of carrots. Owners Brendan Hamilton and Brent Lamb, grow carrots and potatoes in their fertile Southland soils.
Annually Pyper’s produce more than 12,000 tonnes of carrots for both the fresh export and fresh domestic markets. They utilise modern cultivation and harvesting techniques to ensure the highest standard of carrots are grown.
March and April are the key export months for Pyper’s and the timing the pandemic lockdown in New Zealand, hit at the peak of their season. Pypers already had a strict hygiene protocol in place prior to Covid-19, a few additional changes were implemented. Such as social distancing in the packhouse, changing the doors to be foot operated and restricting areas to non-essential staff.
Pyper’s Produce owner Brendan Hamilton with mid -season carrots on the Southland Plains
Today, it is business as usual for Pyper’s, the main challenge now being shipping space to export markets. There is more resource put into ensuring the carrots are freshly harvested, washed and packed to meet the shipping schedules to guarantee the freshest carrots are sent without delay.
Pyper’s had a great crop of carrots in 2020, yields were good and the harvest went smoothly.
Pyper’s top lifter capable of harvesting tonnes of carrots every minute
Once again 160 hectares of carrots have been planted, the first 8 hectares in the early region of Ettrick (for the local Christmas market) and the balance close to their base near Invercargill.
There was more mud to contend with in sowing this year’s crop. August, September and October were much wetter than usual, which made finding a suitable planting opportunity, challenging. The soil moisture improved and was in perfect condition for the main crop sowings in November. From sowing to harvest the main-crop carrots have been growing in near perfect conditions.
New varieties are being assessed each season, so far Soprano has the best root quality, yield and performs very well in the Southland soils.
Pyper’s expert operators, harvesting export carrots on the 9th March 2021
Annual export production has dropped slightly, in line with increased demand for smaller carrots.
Pyper’s export carrots being inspected and graded at the washing and packing facility, 9th March 2021
Good news for the carrot harvest, is that a warmer and drier autumn and early winter is predicted for 2021, in the Southland region where Pyper’s Produce are based.
Brendan Hamilton (right) on the harvester inspecting carrots picked straight from the field on the 9th March 2021