2018 production figures have been on par with other years but sizing and quality have been outstanding, especially with the Taylors Gold variety, and Operations Director Jamiee Burns accredited part of this to regular rainfall and the ability to irrigate when required.
"JR's originally invested in Harvest Electronics Ltd irrigation monitoring system in 2012 but have increased its system to include all of the pear blocks this season," she said. "This has allowed us to continually monitor our soils moisture and temperature levels at half hourly reading on our Smart Phones. This ability allows us to ensure we can quickly respond to any requirements our trees may be needing. We have soil/temperature probes installed at 300mm and 450mm depth through our blocks and this along with temperature, humidity, wind and rain analysis allows us to make accurate decisions based on "real-time" data."
JR's Orchards have also invested in hail netting to ensure the fruit is protected from extreme weather conditions.
"Our fruit is now protected from not only hail but extreme winds that may cause blemishes, possible sunburn or bleaching in Summer and of course potential pests detection," Ms Burns said. "Our company philosophy is to supply an excellent quality product that is environmentally sustainable, tasty, and residue-free in the marketplace. We are always on the lookout for new technology to incorporate into our day to day Orchard Management to ensure our customer requirements and satisfaction can be easily met."
The company currently grows 10 hectares of pears made up of Packhams, Doyenne du Comice, Taylors Gold and Bosc varieties, at Greytown, north east of Wellington. JR's Orchards supply the New Zealand domestic supermarket programs as well as exporting our pears to Europe, with strong demand for the Bosc and Taylors Gold Varieties.
"While pear production in Europe continues to increase, we believe there still is a lot of opportunities for niche growers like JR's to produce good eating quality in the marketplace," Ms Burns said. "We have experienced increases in our volumes, since the installation of the hail netting in the last few years, now that the trees have adjusted to their new growing environment under this type of canopy, and we are predicting increases in our packouts due to consistent sizing and fruit quality."
Another driver of domestic demand, according to Ms Burns, is the health benefits of the fruit.
"We believe that pears continue to be a versatile, healthy fruit that is high in antioxidants and dietary fibre and an excellent source for lowering cholesterol," she said.