After mowing my orchard again and looking at the fruit set on the trees, I wonder how much the crop will be worth next season, writes Daniel Birnie, head of avocado at Trevelyans.
Will it be enough to cover the running costs of the orchard? I know several growers are thinking the same.
It's tough times in the avocado world. Growers are cutting back on inputs (fertilisers/sprays) and returns as low as we have seen from both the export and domestic markets. Sometimes, it's hard to be optimistic about the future.
A few packhouses have stopped packing avocados as they were not profitable (I hope consolidation brings some efficiencies), and several harvest contractors have decided to leave the industry. Once again, we hope the ones that stay find efficiencies and offer more secure work to their staff, including more extended hours. We need our contractors to survive, so when we get through this spell, we will have people available to do the harvest and pruning work on orchards.
However, even with these challenges, there are several reasons why we can look ahead with some confidence.
Avocados are a versatile fruit that both consumers and supermarkets love. Consumption in New Zealand and Australia continues to track upward. The opportunity in Asia is enormous! Additionally, looking around our industry, some great people have been through tough times and found solutions to overcome the problems.
Someone once said, 'The farmer has to be an optimist, or he wouldn't still be a farmer', and it probably rings true about the current environment. In the meantime, I will put more fertiliser on my trees before the next rain, as the crop looks promising.