JR’s Orchards, writes Nicola Watson for www.freshplaza.com is the only large scale, export orchard left in the Wellington area and is situated in the heart of the beautiful Wairarapa, in Greytown.
"Our region's climate of hot days and cold nights gives our fruit outstanding pressures and brix, making our apples highly desirable to all markets," said Jamiee Burns from the company. "In the past 5 years we have planted in excess of 35,000 trees including the new “Sunglow” Red Delicious which is attracting a lot of interest due to its sweet taste and storage compatibilities."
JR's are planting another 5,000 trees this winter, mainly Royal Gala and High Colour Braeburn. "We are looking to grow our markets in Europe and Asia as we feel our variety mix of Royal Gala, Braeburn, Fuji, Sunglow, Pacific Rose and European Pears will be perfect for these markets. We also export to the Middle East market and currently supply fruit into Lidl and Aldi in Europe."
Although netting is not common among New Zealand apples growers, JR's have 90% of their orchards protected. "We have the largest single netting structure for apples and pears in New Zealand and we will continue to develop until we are 100% covered," explains Jamiee.
"The netting has many benefits in enhancing our fruit quality and fruit finish as it has created its own micro climate under the nets. Our crop is protected from birds, insects, wind and hail."
The first netting was erected in 2007 and according to Jamiee, it has been a fantastic investment. "We have seen a 30% increase in production due to the netting. This is achieved by having a cleaner, pest free product and healthier trees."
JR's are a stand-alone business with no other grower supply base. Everything is marketed under the ECCO brand is 100% own fruit. "We have our own packhouse and coolstores with the capacity to Smartfresh 2,000 bins per day. We load all containers onsite and are part of New Zealand's Secure Exporters Program. This allows our export product to enter overseas markets freely without the need for additional offshore customs inspections."
The company has also invested in a new Compac grader that allows them to size, colour band, defect sort and optimise pack weight to ensure accuracy of the product.
"Our philosophy and vision is to grow excellent quality fruit in a sustainable way, while showing respect for our environment. We have twice entered the New Zealand Ballance Environmental Awards and in 2009 won the Gallagher Innovation Award. In 2015 we entered again and won the 2015 Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, 2015 Waterforce Integrated Management Award and 2015 Massey University Innovation Award, said Jamiee proudly.
The company is accredited to BRC, Global Gap + GRASP, Sedex Registered and follow the New Zealand Pipfuit Apple Futures Program to ensure we can deliver an excellent product and meet all our Importers stringent MRL standards required by our markets.
| A FreshPlaza release || August 31, 2017 |||