Spring 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to your Spring 2021 walnut newsletter. 

We’ve continued on with the same format as the last newsletter which means that the latest full edition is available here on the public front page of this website. Previous editions can be read in the members’ library. 

Notices informing members about new newsletters will continue to be sent out by email.

Comments and feedback welcome. 

The latest newsletter will always be here on this page.

Thanks to those who have provided information and articles.

Table of Contents

Chairperson's report

by Dave Malcolm

It is hard to believe that it is already nearing the end of September and the start of another walnut growing season is about to start. For those of you with producing orchards, you will be making decisions on whether to buy a particular item of machinery whether it’s for spraying, mowing, shaking, washing, drying or harvesting. The life of a farmer is one where you seem to be always forking out on some item of machinery and this makes a dent in your cashflow. Farmers often say they are cash poor and asset rich. Capital items can always be sold and your accountant can always get some tax relief by depreciating items each year.

I have begun putting together cash flow budgets for various walnut orchards, with the aim of determining whether walnut growing is profitable. A cash flow budget is one which looks at the returns and costs over many years until full production (which may be 25 years). There may be a certain size of orchard that is profitable, and which year does the orchard break even after all the years of losses are accumulated. A budget like this can be used to determine if disease spraying is worthwhile, or what impact mowing half as much will have on reducing costs. I hope to present some initial findings at our next AGM and newsletter. My aim is to make available an Excel spreadsheet for members to enter their own data into and compare their own financial performance with a generic budget.

Walnut growing is unusual in that full production is obtained many years later than all other horticultural crops which is typically in the first 5 to 10 years. However, for walnut growing, once our trees finally start producing, they will produce in significant quantities and the prices paid for our nuts at retail are higher per kilogram than most other horticultural crops.

You belong to an industry that produces 350 tonnes of walnuts annually. A total of 574 hectares are currently planted in walnut trees, with 70 odd active growers.

Due to the recent Covid outbreak we had to postpone our AGM in August and the new date is set down for the 2nd October. One item on the agenda for the AGM will be whether NZWIG increases the annual subscription, currently $100 a year. We on the committee think it should be increased to $125 and also remove the second person on the same orchard sub of $20. Comparing our subs with other similar sized grower organisations, Olives NZ charge between $135 to $545 depending on orchard size, Citrus NZ $300, Hazelnuts $60. Many other grower organisations charge a levy based on the quantity of produce sold.

For the subscription you pay annually, you receive access to some excellent information from our website, an active research team that is working hard to evaluate new cultivars, initiate and find funding for research into disease management, financial budgeting for walnut growing, and carbon footprint research. NZWIG also produces newsletters to support our members, and informative field days are organised throughout the year.

On the subject of research, Lincoln Agritech completed their research into assessing whether various Trichoderma strains had any effect on controlling walnut blight in the laboratory. Trichoderma is a fungus that lives in the soil and in some plants and is know to control silver leaf in stone fruit and phytophthora (root rot). Walnut blight is a serious bacterial disease in walnuts and currently the only control are copper sprays and the fungicide Mancozeb. NZWIG are seeking alternatives to copper sprays for two reasons – copper residues building up in the soil and blight resistance to copper sprays resulting from continued use. So NZWIG contracted Lincoln Agritech with a $20,000 grant from AGMARDT to carry out research into 100 Trichoderma strains on walnut blight invitro. 24 of these Trichoderma strains were found to show some antagonistic effect on walnut blight. This is an encouraging result and the research committee are now planning on conducting further research in orchards using some of these Trichoderma strains, but also some other biological control agents and an antibiotic called Kasugamycin.

Other activities of the research committee include, contracting Plant and Food Research to undertake research into the carbon footprint of walnut growing, finding out typical water usage on walnut orchards, nitrate leeching in walnut orchards and financial budgeting. The research committee is currently planning a field day for new growers in February 2022 with the aim of attracting new members into our industry hopefully from the dairy and sheep and beef farmers looking to diversify. NZWIG will keep members informed on these developments.

Finally, I wish you a successful growing season with no late frosts, not too much rain in spring and no damaging winds.

A letter from Wairarapa

As walnut life in New Zealand seems to be heavily weighted to the South Island and in particular Canterbury, I feel as though I am writing from the distant province of Wairarapa.  I have to say that after two years I have few lessons to impart to the southerners.  In fact I am mostly in awe of their orchards and what they have accomplished. 

I being a naive Canadian find my mood changes with the seasons. 

As a child in Canada, I was always one to spend winters dreaming over seed catalogues imagining beautiful gardens and bountiful produce. Wildly optimistic I would start each spring with ideas, seeds and lots of energy.   I would till a garden and plant careful rows, neatly labelled.  As spring bleeds into summer my seeds would germinate but then so would thousands of weeds.   Other summer interests would distract from weeding and watering.  By late summer an inspection of the garden would typically find a forest of healthy weeds and only a smattering of produce.  Autumn would be vaguely depressing realising that farming is hard work.  And then winter would find me dreaming over the seed catalogues again. 

When we moved to New Zealand and purchased Ad and Alma Van der Tol’s orchard in Carterton we had wildly optimistic dreams of life tending an orchard.  How much work could it be?  They were just trees and we all know that trees take care of themselves.  We would have a lovely forest to picnic in each summer and the only work was to pick up the nuts each autumn.  I guess you could say that you can take the boy out of Canada but you can’t take the boy out of the Canadian. 

My initial hubris has been replaced with a more humble demeanour.  I still start each winter dreaming of the coming season.  This spring I am again full of ideas and dreams of how much I am going to improve the orchard, however I also realise that I am just human and that I need a triage system to prioritise what I can do.  The famous prayer comes to mind, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”    

After two years we have been pleasantly surprised at how much a family enterprise the orchard has become.  Everyone helps out at harvest and my two girls have taken on the running of a stand at the local farmers’ market.  At the best of times it feels like living in an episode of Country Calendar”

I love the seasonality of the walnut orchard.  I was walking the orchard yesterday and the walnuts are still dormant although the windbreak of alders and poplars are starting to break into leaf.  The ground is well saturated although of course this year I am planning to start irrigating much sooner.  I am really looking forward to the scent of the walnuts when the leaves come out.  All in all I am hoping for a good year (and fingers crossed that the blight is not too bad).

Being on the North Island, I do miss the close walnut community that I sense exists in Canterbury.  I would love to be contacted by any owners of North Island walnut orchards, no matter what size, to see if we could start to foster a similar community here.

Kind regards

John and Sheryl Selwyn

Stories from Galloway Central Otago

Frost Stories from Galloway Central Otago.

Along with my wife Kate, we have a 25-year-old 400 tree walnut orchard at Galloway, 8km from Alexandra.

It’s coming up to that nail biting time of year when we need to worry about frost.

From October 7th each year we take action to fight significant frosts. We have 25 frost heaters and about 15% of our orchard protected by sprinklers mounted on telegraph poles with 2 metre extensions bolted to the top. Maintenance when required is a precarious business with climbing rods screwed into the posts and a chain with a carabiner attached to the top of each pole. One can be belayed up to undertake repairs such as unblocking sprinklers. Quite exciting when there is a strong nor-west wind blowing!

A cold October morning with frost sprinklers in action

The nice thing about walnut trees versus grapes or other low growing horticultural crops is that they grow tall, pushing their way through the cold air inversion. When our trees were young, we used to suffer damage including some mortality most years. Risking fate for this season, we haven’t suffered a crop right off since 2013. Our last frost-free spring was 2019.

We’ve been recording frosts since 1997. We now have enough data to have compiled the following graph depicting the likelihood of a frost for each week in the spring frost season.

Frost Graph, Central Otago
These figures don’t reflect all those nail-biting nights when a frost looks certain, but a subtle weather change saves the night.

Central Otago is becoming less frosty as evidenced by the number of days we skate on our local Manorburn dam having reduced spectacularly since we moved to the area in the 1990’s. For the last few years, we are lucky to skate a day or 2, a far cry from the 1950’s when there used be regular excursion trains from Dunedin for skaters. 

A warming climate may not be a positive for walnut growing, as mild winters may result in budding and flowering occurring earlier in the spring when days are still short.

As we start to thin our orchard, we are debating if creating gaps in the canopy may allow frost to “fall” to the ground and flow out of the orchard at ground level versus sitting on top of an unbroken canopy. There appears to be no material on the Web supporting or debunking this theory.

Planting multiple walnut varieties has certainly lessened the frost risk. We usually lose our Serr crop, sometimes our Meyrics and occasionally our Estahazys and Rexs. We have never lost our Franquettes (albeit a light producer). Our Vina are planted on a high terrace where suffering light bony soils and exposure to wind is compensated for by much-reduced frost frequency.

We are hopeful that after the warmest winter on record in Alexandra, that this spring will be kind to us.

By the time this article appears, the frost alarm will be set, and we will be running our usual spring gauntlet. Wherever you are growing walnuts all the best for the spring and spare a thought for all those sleepless nights in Central Otago.

Rob Wardle, Galloway Central Otago.

Winter Field Day

Report by Dave Malcolm

On our last field day, held on Sunday 11th of July, John Hollings put together a full day programme where we visited 6 properties. Luckily the day was fine and relatively warm for July. The focus of the day was around harvesting and drying equipment and tree thinning in more established orchards.

Tim and Cherry Armitage’s

First up, we visited Tim and Cherry Armitage’s 25 year old, 10 acre property in Eyreton, North Canterbury.

Tim and Cherry showed us their new Feucht Obstterchnik mid-sized OB 70 harvester. This impressive machine has replaced the smaller Feucht OB50 which is a self-propelled walk behind harvester, now owned by Dave Malcolm. Dave demonstrated this machine after a false start with a slipped belt. Both machines were very effective at picking up only walnuts (and leaving behind leaves and sticks) using a series of rotating heavy rubber flaps to pick up the walnuts. The larger machine has an extension using the same rotating rubber flaps to feed the walnuts into the main receiving area. The smaller machine collected the nuts in smaller plastic tubs, while the bigger machine collected the nuts in a larger bin which could be lifted off by a hydraulically operated lift.

Next, we moved indoors to look at Tim and Cherry’s grading and drying system. A conveyor belt is used to sort and grade the nuts after being washed. They use a small Feucht drum size grader which sorts nuts by size.

For drying, Tim has built plywood drying boxes each with two $30 fan heaters. Each box can hold 300kg of nuts and it takes 2 days to dry the walnuts. Tim estimates it costs 15 cents per kilogram to dry the nuts. Another useful tool Tim and Cherry had bought to move storage bins was a hydraulic hand stacker truck with forks and wheels that could lift 500kg 1 metre high, which would be a cheaper option for loading bins onto a trailer. This was bought from Arrow Warehousing from $920 ex GST (www.arrowwarehousing.co.nz)

Info about OB50 & OB70 harvesters

Click to enlarge images

Further information on the German Equipment see: Feucht Obstterchnik https://feucht-obsttechnik.de/en/

Basil and Trudi Meyer are agents for Feucht equipment and you can contact them using the secure form on this page. 

Nelson and Wilma Hubber’s

The second property visited was to Nelson and Wilma Hubber’s 11 hectare property in West Melton, to see their dehumidifier based drying system.

Nelson talked about how they had dried the first harvests on a bed and how walnut drying had developed over many years into what it is now.

At one stage their walnuts went, along with just about every other grower’s, to the Southern Seed Technology drying facility at Irwell. SST has a huge dehumidifying system, bought second hand from the Chelsea sugar factory, and that’s where Nelson was convinced that dehumidifiers are a good idea.

In the 2020 harvest season Nelson and Wilma dried 12.4 tonnes of walnuts and this season about 11.6 tonnes. The setup has four bays or chambers and each of these has a separate dehumidifier. Two chambers have Dimplex 40 litre domestic machines and two have 120 litre commercial dehumidifiers. The rating of 40L or 120L refers to the litres of water the machines can extract from the air at 30ºc and 80% relative humidity in a 24 hour period. The dehumidifiers take moisture from air that is recycled through the nuts, in boxes with mesh bottoms, using ducted electric carpet drying fans, one for each chamber. 

The extracted water is piped outside into stormwater sumps.  

Drying bins are shifted from the washer and into the drying chambers with a pallet jack as required. There are six mesh bottomed bins meaning that two of them are always available to be filled or pre-dried with ambient forced air.  Pre-drying means that the nuts are dryer when put into the chambers and so the dehumidifiers get to work quicker. 

This year electronic moisture sensors were fitted and these switched each chamber off when the air reached a set moisture percentage, meaning that far less manual testing of nut moisture was required. Out of over 40 drying batches only two were restarted for extra drying and over drying, a problem in previous years was avoided.  

Dehumidifying systems have the advantage of low running costs, 6 to 12 cents per kg and being totally electric no carbon based fuel exhaust is reaching the atmosphere, as is the case with gas heated drying systems. 

Nelson built all of their harvesting, washing and drying systems himself and says that the drying setup is the best. 

You are welcome to contact Nelson for more information. 

The story of Hubber’s drying and harvesting setup can be found on this webpage https://walnuts.org.nz/walnut-harvesting-and-drying-equipment/

Click to enlarge images

Basil and Trudi Meyer’s

The third property visited was to Basil and Trudi Meyer’s orchard in Charing Cross. Basil and Trudi are the agents for German made Feucht Obstterchnik harvesters, washers, sorters and drying equipment. Here we were shown their OB100 harvester which has a 270 cm collecting area using a rotor extension with the same rotating firm rubber flaps that are more effective at picking up nuts off grass cut 15-25cm long. Feucht’s website claims it can pick up 4 tonnes per hour depending on the type of fruit or nut. I suspect this number would be less for walnuts. Nuts are fed into a 250 litre bin which can be lifted hydraulically and tipped into receiving bins placed in the orchard. This machine uses an 18HP twin cylinder petrol motor (a diesel version is available). Like the smaller Feucht harvesters, this machine is also very efficient at picking up only walnuts. A fire extinguisher was mounted on the harvester, which Basil said was cheap insurance in case of a fire.

Members also could have a good look at the Feucht washing machine which also doubled as a size sorter with 25mm and 30mm mesh sized drums. The frame was built to allow a storage bin to sit underneath. Also displayed was a tower drier which ran on LPG. The tower drier can be 2 to 4 levels and internal sloping grating allows for efficient drying and easy movement of nuts from top to bottom to emptying into storage bins.

The washing/sorting and drier used single phase power. Many of the parts are serviceable and replaced locally.

Click to enlarge images

Hugh and Jill Stevenson’s orchard in Greendale

The next property was at Hugh and Jill Stevenson’s orchard in Greendale. Here we viewed a French Rousset R06 harvester which is the first one produced from the AMB Rousset factory. This harvester is the smallest one produced by AMB Rousset and is suitable for smaller orchards of 5 – 10 ha. The machine has a harvesting width of 0.7 metres and with the extension of horizontal rotating brushes which adds another 0.65m making a total collecting width of 1.35 metres.  A blower and vibrating tray help to remove leaves and debris from the orchard floor before the nuts move to the collecting bin which holds 180 litres and can be hydraulically lifted to a height of 1.85 metres. This harvester uses a Briggs and Straten Vangard 25HP V-twin petrol engine. The machine will also harvest hazelnuts.  The machine weighs around 800 kg and is easily transported on a trailer. The cost of this machine landed in Christchurch was $45,000.

Tricketts Road

Up next was Hugh and Jill’s second property in Tricketts Rd in West Melton. The focus of this visit was on thinning of an established orchard. This orchard has had trees removed and changed from the 10 x 10 plus one in the middle layout to just 10m x 10m. As walnut trees produce their nuts on the outside of the tree (terminal bearing), and without sunlight these walnut shoots do not produce produce nuts if shaded. Canopy closure, where the walnut trees start crowding each other out, will start to shade each other resulting in fewer nuts being produced. So, it is necessary at some stage to thin out whole trees. This results in a loss of yield initially but as the surrounding trees grow taller and wider, overall production increases.

At Hugh and Jill’s orchard, canopy closure was occurring on his 25 year old trees. He has been slowly removing the middle tree in the 10 x 10 plantings. Some trees he has left, but pruned their branches back to short 2 metre branches. His theory is that these trees will not compete with the larger surrounding trees but will produce some walnuts, which is better than no walnuts. There is also the possibility of selling the trunks for timber, as walnut wood can be valuable and sought after.

There was also a short discussion about collecting the sap from walnut trunks for syrup, as done with maple trees. Walnuts and maples are unusual in that their sap doesn’t stop rising in winter and so this sap can be collected from wounds in the trunk and boiled to concentrate into a syrup.

Click to enlarge images

Colin and Karen Prebble’s

The final property visited was to Colin and Karen Prebble’s organic orchard in Lincoln, called Nut Tree Farm.

Here we looked at thinning 20 year old Meyric trees, which were planted with a spacing of 12 x 12 metres with one tree in the middle.

After 20 years the trees are crowding each other and there is competition for sunlight.  Yields have declined however we can’t say how much is due to over-crowding due to 3 successive years of adverse weather events, such as wet spring followed by extensive hail damage followed by severe frost!

Rather than fully remove the “middle tree” immediately we have adopted a process of extensive trimming of the middle tree. By removing the major limbs on the eastern and western side of the middle tree we are able to prevent the trees touching and allow significantly more light through to the lower areas of the permanent trees.

Limbs removed were quite large, however the tree only bleeds a little and will heal quickly.

We will continue to monitor yields and general canopy development and continue to reduce middle trees as required until they are eventually fully removed.

Firewood any one?

Click to enlarge images

Thank You

A big thank you to Tim and Cherry Armitage, Nelson and Wilma Hubber, Hugh and Jill Stevenson, Basil and Trudi Meyer, and Colin and Karen Prebble for taking the time to set up and talk to members on the day. Also, thank you to John Hollings our field events coordinator for organising the whole day.

If you have something worth showing our members on a field day, please get in touch with John Hollings 021746182

Videos and further information about many of the machines seen on the field day can be found in the Members’ Library of this website.

Busy squirrel causes problems in America

Squirrel stores thousands of black walnuts inside man’s parked truck.

Click here for video and complete run down on the story. 

Are We Leaving The Profit On The Trees?

Shakeoff Needed? 

This year there’s been lots of comment about nuts staying on the trees and many of us have found unexpectedly large numbers still falling well into the winter.

Smaller growers have tended to think they don’t need a shaker and the cost has always seemed too high for the size of the crop being harvested. However if you’re leaving a tonne of nuts on the ground, or even half a tonne then a $3500 Feucht Obsttechnik shaker shown here could be worthwhile. 

Roger Slee has one of these machines and it was also used by John Hollings this year. Roger says it’s good for what it is. It brings lots of nuts down really quickly but, being a small light machine, it’s definitely not as effective on bigger trees. 

The shaker fits on a tractor three point linkage and attaches to the trees with a cable. It’s a two person operation and Roger used a ladder when necessary to attach the cable to bigger trees. Higher attachment is the solution to trees with thicker trunks, but of course it takes longer. 

Roger shook once this year managing about 50 trees an hour, however he thinks two rounds might be necessary if we encounter the same ‘slow drop’ conditions again.  

John thinks it’s a great little machine and is amazed how quickly each tree can be shaken. 

These machines can be obtained through Basil and Trudi Meyer. Use this page to conact them. 

Small tractor mounted tree shaker
Feucht Obsttechnik. Cable shaker OS - Aprox. cost $3500
Shaker to tree cable attachment. Extended attaching handle also shown.

Other tree shakers

This carousel of tree shaker options is provided to give you some idea of what’s available. 

A Proper Shake UP

If your walnuts are sticking to the trees and you haven’t got a proper shaker then you might consider this idea. The video shows a front end loader being used to shake the trees, the tractor in the video is relatively small with ‘grass’ tread tyres which slip more easily. It’s probably an appropriate size for the job, a bigger tractor might have too much push and cause damage to the trees. 

Play Video

Turkish Machines

You may also like to consider Turkish tree shakers that can be seen at this link

(Nelson Hubber has one of these if anyone would like to see it )

Water Water Water

Interesting Facts
Dave Malcolm has been collecting information from members on water use and on one orchard in Canterbury, that he has data from, it takes 876 litres of water to produce a kilogram of walnuts. Nearly the same as dairy farms use. 
Water use examples
Walnuts, 876 litres per kg walnuts produced (One Canterbury Example)
Almonds 10,240 litres per kg of almonds (Source Ecological Indicators Vol 96)
Potatoes, 284 litres per kg of potatoes (Source & following 3 crops befresh.ca )
Wheat takes 1500 litres per kg of wheat
Apples 822 litres per kg
Broccoli 284 litres per kg
 

Websites Report

Update from this website walnuts.org.nz 

  • BEST NEWS IN THIS NEWSLETTER. There is an update on the Californian Walnut Prices page of the website with a far more optimistic outlook on prices. Also on the same page a link to very interesting production info from the USDA’s annual Objective Measurement report. (See Members’ Library in the menu above)
  • We had hoped to have a live blight index on the website but decided that at $25 per month the input data was too expensive.
  • The link to the benchmarking database no longer exists but the Reasearch Committee is working on what should replace this. 
  • This newsletter is on a public page within the website. 
  • You can join the website at any time by clicking on this link www.walnuts.org.nz or entering the website name in your browser and then finding the “Become a Member” page in the menu and completing the form that you will find there. 

 

 The following item is for sale in the Click & Chat Buy & Sell page

For Sale Walnut Storage Bins
 
  • Brand new 2 large storage bins
  • Keep your walnuts dry and clean after washing and drying
  • Hold over a tonne each
  • Top fill,  front discharge
  • Fork liftable
  • On Wheels
  • Steel throughout
  • Price NZ$ 2000 each
Contact Brian Falkingham, Mermadale
021 393932

 Walnutsplease – our promotional website

  • Remember that we have a website specifically dedicated to promoting your walnuts
  • It averaged 11.5 new visitors per day over the last week and some weeks it averages 20+ visits. 
  • It would be great if you would send in some orchard stories for this website. Being new content it would increase traffic.

Research Committee Report - 30 August 2021

Research

NZWIG Research Committee report

30 August 2021

The research committee met on 21 July, with our next meeting planned for 8 September, Covid alert levels permitting. Members are Dave Malcolm, Anna Brenmuhl, Clive Marsh, Hugh Stevenson, Sonya Olykan and Heather North. NZWIG research has been operating at very limited capacity in the last five or six years, but we are getting things fired up again.

  1. Benchmarking – we are reactivating this project. We think it would be really helpful for growers to be able to compare their tree growth and yield against industry averages, interpreting this comparison with the help of a list of factors that can affect orchard performance. The original database has been accessed, and we are figuring out whether it is now usable by growers.
  2. Cultivar trial planted in 2005 – Measurements and data collection were mostly complete 5 years ago. We are now working on finalising data entry and analysis so we can get an article out to growers summarising the results for each cultivar.
  3. We have been continuing to collect data on the cultivar trial planted in 2011 – this is the one that includes the imported varieties. We also need to get all this data analysed and written up.
  4. The project on moulds found in 2019 crop was mostly finished a year ago, including all lab work and literature survey. Results indicated a likelihood that nuts damaged in spring by plant pathogens such as blight can be susceptible to invasion by a range of environmental fungi later in the season, which cause the moulds. The final part of project still to be completed is to correlate survey data on orchard conditions (from 10 growers) with data from the factory on the mouldiness ranking of their 2019 crops, to develop practical recommendations for growers.
  5. The AgMardt-funded project on initial screening of Trichoderma strains as a potential biocontrol for walnut blight is complete. We have sent the final report to AgMardt, received the funding, and paid Lincoln Agritech for doing the lab work. Dr Jo Steyaert from Lincoln Agritech will speak at the NZWIG AGM to summarise results for growers.

Results:

  • 30 strains of Trichoderma were isolated from samples of walnut roots, but none were found in samples of walnut twigs or nutlets.
  • A further 70 strains were selected from existing collections owned or curated by Lincoln Agritech.
  • All 100 strains were screened for antagonistic activity against walnut blight on agar plates in the lab. In total, 24 strains showed activity against blight, including three of those isolated from our walnut root samples.
  • Five of the 24 were further screened using a more sensitive test – three of the five showed activity in this test.

 

Next steps:

  1. It was very positive that so many of the strains (24) were active against blight, but we must keep in mind that this is only initial lab screening, and it would take a lot more work to determine if any would be effective in real/orchard conditions.
  2. We are now thinking about whether to carry on with further testing of Trichoderma strains.
  3. We are looking into funding options and project design for a future possible blight control project that could include the Trichoderma as well as compounds found successful in American research (several existing biocontrol products and kasugamycin).
  4. Both NZWIG and Walnuts NZ Co-op are keen to get a handle on greenhouse gas emissions (and sinks) for our industry, with the Co-op focusing on the factory/distribution part of the picture and NZWIG looking into the on-farm part.
  5. NZWIG and the Co-op are also collaborating on holding a new growers’ field day to attract more participants to our industry and increase walnut supply. The role of the Research Committee is to work in with the rest of NZWIG to provide data for the field day, possibly including figures on greenhouse gas calculations, nitrate leaching, water use and financial budget data.
 

Heather North – Research Leader NZWIG

Walnut Christmas decorations

There are lots of ideas on the www for making Christmas decorations using walnut shells – wholes and halves. Some are quite intricate and some are easy. Here are pictures for making some of the easier ones. Click on them for links to directions and more ideas.

Christmas cheers, Sonya.

Oops! Things have changed!

Working From Home

Oops! things have changed dramatically in the workplace and we might not have noticed, having our orchards to keep us grounded!

Our daughter and her husband are shifting from Auckland to Christchurch and bringing their jobs with them, in the form of a computer each. What’s more our son in law’s customers are all over the world, particularly in the United States, even although the head office is in Queen Street, Auckland and what our daughter designs on her computer connects to a factory in Henderson where the items are made.  This has helped me to realise just how very quickly change is happening. 

It’s rapid, a June 2021 World Economic Forum report says that 20% of full working days will be completed at home in the near future, compared with only 5% before the pandemic. The thinking is that in the United States only 26% of workers will continue to work full time every day from their employers’ premises. What is this doing to transport, inner cities, real estate and New Zealand? Instead of having satellite suburbs NZ might be a satellite country. 

I’m sure we will find out!

Nelson Hubber

Production - Less common ideas.

Idea 1 – Mycorrhizal fungi networks

Perhaps if we paid more attention to what’s going on in the soil we’d be producing better and bigger crops without putting so many demands on  the environment.  

Research has shown that beneath every forest and wood there is a complex underground web of roots, fungi and bacteria helping to connect trees and plants to one another. This subterranean social network, nearly 500 million years old, has become known as the “wood wide web”.

Now, an international study has produced the first global map of the “mycorrhizal fungi networks” dominating this secretive world.

Details appear in Nature journal. Click here if you’d like to know more. 

There is also an interesting article about the Wood Wide Web in the NZ Geographic. Click here

The fungi, known as mycorrhizal fungi, receive carbon from the tree in exchange for essential nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which they take up from the soil.

Perhaps the ‘Wood Wide Web’ is something we should know more about, it could be a key to success and walnut growing satisfaction. 
Idea 2 – Could this apply to walnuts too?

Using light to manage crops. Exposing plants to UV light can control pest and pathogens and promote plant growth. 

If you check the net you’ll find that there’s quite a bit of information about using light to enhance the growth and management of crops. In the US ultra-violent light has been used to control powdery mildew on strawberries but the light wavelengths involved are dangerous. Now it’s been discovered that some specific parts of the UV spectrum aren’t a health and safety risk and a Dutch artist, come scientist, has put this knowledge to use and created an artwork that looks amazing and enhances crop production as well. 

Here is a press release about a 20,000m2 artwork, GROW by Daan Roosegaarde, highlighting the beauty of agriculture.

Daan Roosegaarde’s latest artwork GROW is an homage to the beauty and importance of agriculture. In the world film premiere GROW appears as a luminous dreamscape. Red and blue lights wash like waves over an enormous field surrounded by darkness. GROW is inspired by science exploring how certain “recipes” of light can improve plants’ growth and resilience.

Most of the time we hardly notice the huge areas of the Earth which are literally feeding us. GROW highlights the importance of innovation in the agriculture system: How can cutting-edge light design help plants to grow more sustainably? How can we make the farmer the hero?

GROW consists of a design-based light recipe which shines vertically across 20,000m2 of farmland with leek (Allium porrum). You experience the artwork as ‘dancing lights’ across the huge agricultural field. The light is poetic, and inspired by photobiology light science technologies which have shown that certain recipes of blue, red, and ultraviolet light can enhance plant growth and reduce the use of pesticides by up to 50%.

The film GROW (which can be viewed at https://studioroosegaarde.net/project/grow) shows the development of this luminous dreamscape and how the beauty of light can help plants. GROW can be good for nature but also sends hopeful light to people. It gives a new meaning to the word ‘agri-culture’ by reframing the landscape as a living cultural artwork.

GROW is part of the artist-in-residence program of the Rabobank. Daan Roosegaarde and his team of designers and experts developed GROW over two years, informed by expert knowledge sessions at Studio Roosegaarde, Wageningen University & Research, Springtij Forum, and the World Economic Forum in Davos. It is the first in a series of dreamscapes by Studio Roosegaarde which show the beauty of combining art and science to create a better world.

Wiebe Draijer, Chairman of the Managing Board, Rabobank: “It is really inspiring to work with an artist like Daan Roosegaarde on how to grow a better world together.”

Artist Daan Roosegaarde: “GROW is the dreamscape which shows the beauty of light and sustainability. Not as a utopia but as a protopia, improving step by step.”

Prof. Dr. Wargent, PhD, Chief Science Officer at BioLumic, world leading expert in plant photobiology: “The project GROW is a fascinating project and supported by scientific research which shows specific light recipes can enhance growth and reduce pesticide use up to 50%.”

Contact information:

Team Studio Roosegaarde: [email protected]
Full information: https://studioroosegaarde.net/project/grow
With special thanks to MediaMonks and Wageningen University & Research.

About Studio Roosegaarde:

Internationally renowned Dutch designer and innovator Daan Roosegaarde and his team connect people and technology to improve urban environments and spark imagination. https://www.studioroosegaarde.net

Using Light For Plant Growth & health

Imagine what a spectacle a walnut orchard would be! And the nuts might grow better and the blight be reduced as well. 

I walnut find a better lifestyle!

People said, with husky voices, we were cracked to get involved with walnuts.

Was there a kernel of truth in this? No, we thought, she’ll be right, we weren’t total nutters.

We could see the wood for the trees and had twigged that we weren’t barking up the wrong tree.

Besides it’s good to branch out into something new and maybe even leaf the past behind.

So we’ve started to put down roots and go with the phloem. I’m sure we walnut be disappointed!

By Teresa Green-Grove

Big Tree Chipper

If you have lots of trees to remove and don’t want a huge heap of tree trunks left on the property you might consider using a big capacity tree mulcher like the one in this video. Reported to be the biggest machine available in Canterbury it has the capacity to chip nearly 47 alder trees in one day. Though the trunks of some of the biggest trees were kept aside and disposed of off the property. 

Operated this day by Mitch Macdonald (MKM Contracting)

Play Video

2021 AGM

Spaced out for Covid. Picture from our 2021 AGM.

A worthwhile day that covered;

  • Trichoderma 
  • Orchard Budgeting
  • Our websites and their features
  • AGM 
  • Pizza Evening & Social time

Annual Subscription

After consideration the meeting decided to increase the annual subscription to $125 per year and make it per orchard, organisation or business. The requirement for a second person to pay $20 has been removed and the first year 50% discount done away with.  

The main reasons being that;

  • It’s been the same for the past 20 years so is in effect, because of inflation, been getting cheaper.
  • In comparison with other industry groups, as opposed to community groups, the new subscription seems suitable.
  • That even although we have a large asset base we’ve been spending more than our income for the past few years.
  • It is thought that the funds that we have should be kept for research or special projects.  
  • For an orchard where two people were paying subs, one $100 and the other $20 the new subscription is only $5.00 more. 

Tell Me About Stuff – Nelson Hubber, Editor

  • Please send in pictures, stories, articles and your opinions, or ask for topics to be covered.
  • We can publish serious articles and growers information for you at walnuts.org.nz
  • Send out notices to members for you about items for sale, events, etc.
  • We can feature short items and pictures from you in this newsletter.
  • Tell interesting tales in the “Orchard Stories” page of walnutsplease.nz(This will build up internet traffic to our site and increase interest in walnuts).
  • And we can help sell your walnuts on “Where to buy NZ walnuts” (On average over 20 people per day visit this walnutsplease.nz page)
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New Zealand Walnut Industry Group