Word of the day


Ephemeron – a shortlived or transitory thing.

Zespri releases Gold3 for PSA revocery



Zespri has released 2068 hectares of Gold3, a commercialised kiwifruit variety with tolerance to PSA which has decimated orchards.

Gold3 is a kiwifruit variety commercialised in 2010 by ZESPRI after 10 years of development.  It was selected from the extensive ZESPRI and Plant & Food Research new variety programme for its qualities of high orchard yields, handling characteristics, storage and positive appeal to consumers determined through in-market sensory work over consecutive seasons.

Subsequent to its commercial release, Gold3 has, to date, shown a greater level of tolerance to Psa than the original ZESPRI® GOLD variety, Hort16A.  This level of Psa tolerance combined with Gold3’s commercial qualities has made it the cornerstone of the recovery pathway from Psa.

ZESPRI Chief Executive, Lain Jager, said the wide-scale release of Gold3 was significant for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry for two reasons. 

Firstly, of the 2068 hectares of Gold3 released, 1610 hectares will be to Hort16A growers, starting the process of all Hort16A growers eventually transitioning their orchards to a more Psa tolerant Gold cultivar?

Secondly, this will be the largest transition to a new variety in a year that has ever been undertaken by the industry and represents the transition of almost 15 percent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit hectarage to a new variety.  The previous largest transition to a new variety was in 2000, with the release of 1200 hectares of Hort16A to the industry.

“The impact of Psa on the New Zealand kiwifruit industry has been devastating.  Almost half of all New Zealand kiwifruit hectares now have some level of infection.  With this transition to Gold3 we can see that around 1600 hectares of Hort16A canopy will be cut out as a result of Psa since November 2010?

“The announcement today is a significant turning point for our industry both in terms of beginning to emerge from Psa and in cementing the future growth of the industry,” Mr Jager said.

As well as the release of Gold3 to current Hort16A growers, a further 359 Gold3 hectares have been released to non-Hort16A growers, to give them an opportunity to diversify their orchard portfolio and have access to a higher-performing cultivar. 

Mr Jager cautioned while the release was a real positive for the industry, there still remained a high level of risk around the Gold3 recovery pathway?

“There are no Psa resistant varieties.  This means even with the introduction of a variety with greater Psa tolerance, the learning curve for the industry as to how to best manage orchards in a Psa environment remains steep.

“Mitigating this risk will require the proactive management of orchards and an ongoing commitment to innovation.  Managing the threat of Psa must now be considered as business-as-usual for all growers and the wider industry.”

Mr Jager said while the presence of Psa would mean a level of ongoing uncertainty for kiwifruit producers, the kiwifruit industry’s unified structure coupled with the resilience and determination of New Zealand kiwifruit growers has allowed it to find a way forward in the face of the devastation caused by Psa.

This isn’t a cure but  it is progress.

New Zealand research on the disease is being watched closely by other countries which have had the disease for much longer but had little success in combating it.


Are New Zealand and Australia the only countries which call the fruit kiwifruit?

Whenever I’ve seen it in North and South America or Europe it’s just called kiwi, presumably because people there wouldn’t confuse it with the bird or the people as we might on either side of the Tasman.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions are here.

As I write this, a couple of hours before it will appear, Gravedodger has won an electronic jelly sponge for stumping everyone.

I’ll leave it to Richard to claim one too if Bulaman’s answer isn’t close enough. I’ve got an extractor fan which sucks down, rather than the more common one that sucks up, and turning it on when dealing with onions helps keeps tears at bay.

Gravedodger also gets  the electronic bag of biscuits for the most inventive or humorous answer.

Israeli micro-irrigation expert wins world food prize


Israeli micro-irrigation pioneer Daniel Hellel is the 2012 World Food Laureate:

An Israeli scientist who pioneered a radically innovative way of bringing water to crops in arid and dry-land regions was named the winner of the 2012 World Food Prize in a ceremony today at the U.S. State Department, at which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the keynote address. 

“Water has been a very big topic of concern here in the State Department,” Clinton said. “We have tried to focus our government’s attention and the world’s attention on the importance of getting ahead of what will be a devastating water crisis if we are not smarter and more purposeful in addressing the problems now. It’s especially fitting that we honor today someone who has made such contributions because he understood the critical role that water plays in agriculture and the importance of getting every last drop used efficiently.

I’m delighted to see the importance of irrigation acknowledged in this way and the reinforcement of the need to use it efficently. His achievements are summed up here:

Dr. Hillel’s pioneering scientific work in Israel revolutionized food production, first in the Middle East, and then in other regions around the world over the past five decades.  His work laid the foundation for maximizing efficient water usage in agriculture, increasing crop yields, and minimizing environmental degradation. 

This is something all irrigators should do as normal practice.

First drawn to the critical needs of the water supply in arid regions during his years of living in a small settlement in the highlands of the Negev Desert, the new approach Dr. Hillel developed provided for a low-volume, high-frequency, calibrated water supply to plants. As such, his research led to a dramatic shift from the prevailing method of irrigation used in the first half of the twentieth century: applying water in brief periodic episodes of flooding to saturate the soil, followed by longer periods of manufactured drought to dry out the soil. The new innovative method developed and disseminated by Dr. Hillel applied water in small but continuous amounts directly to the plant roots, with dramatic results in plant production and water conservation.

Dr. Hillel’s development and promotion of better land and water management clearly demonstrated that farmers no longer needed to depend on the soil’s ability to store water, as was the case when using the previous method of high volume, low frequency irrigation. The technology he advanced, including drip, trickle and continuous-feed irrigation, has improved the quality of life and livelihoods throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Dr. Hillel proved that plants grown in continuously moist soil, achieved through micro-irrigation, produced higher yields than plants grown under the old flooding or sprinkler irrigation methods. Using less water in agriculture per unit of land not only conserves a scarce resource in arid and semi-arid regions, but also results in significantly “more crop per drop,” with the successful cultivation of field crops and fruit trees — even in coarse sands and gravel. 

By integrating complex scientific principles, designing practical applications, and achieving wide outreach to farmers, communities, researchers, and agricultural policymakers in more than 30 countries, Daniel Hillel has impacted the lives of millions.

Dr. Hillel’s water management concepts—promoted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization as HELPFUL (High-frequency, Efficient, Low-volume, Partial-area, Farm-unit, Low-cost)—have spread from Israel to Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. HELPFUL irrigation technology is now used to produce high-yielding, nutritious food on more than six million hectares worldwide. Dr. Hillel also helped devise a range of other adaptable, sustainable water management techniques for arid regions.  Specifically, harvesting rainwater by inducing and collecting runoff from sloping ground can allow farmers to grow crops on previously barren lands.

His innovative approaches to enhancing infiltration and reducing evaporation through soil surface treatments have enhanced agricultural productivity. He has defined ways to control the leaching of solutes, the water-logging of root zones, and the erosion of topsoil by precisely determining the supply of water required with only small increments of percolation and drainage needed to prevent salt accumulation.

Salt accumulation isn’t a problem in New Zealand but control of leaching, water-logging and soil erosion are concerns everywhere.

We don’t face water shortages as dire as those in many other countries, but irrigation is important in drought-prone areas like much of the east coast of both main islands. We need exports if we want to retain first-world status and the world needs more of the food we produce so well.

More irrigation will help us produce more and while Dr Heller’s methods might not be best here the principles of  efficient and responsible use

Wyn-Harris wins Ag communicator of year


Hawke’s Bay farmer Steve Wyn-Harris has won the 2012  Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year title.

I am not sure if this is the first time the award has gone to a practicing farmer but there’s no doubt his communication is built on first-hand experience in farming.

Wyn-Harris started his farming career in 1985 when he bought 180 hectares in Central Hawke’s Bay, adding several other blocks over the years, so he and his wife now have 350ha.  The properties carry high performance breeding ewes, including a coopworth sheep stud that uses latest technology such as sire referencing, AI and gene identification.  Bull beef makes up 40% of the stock carried and 15% of the property is planted in forestry, and areas of amenity and native plantings are scattered over all the farms.  He has won a number of farming awards over the years, most recently last year when the farm took out the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award.

However, it is because of his commentaries about farming, farming industries and agricultural sciences that he took out this year’s Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award.   He is a broadcaster with his own local radio show and is a regular on the national Farming Show.  He is a long-standing columnist, and has been contributing weekly columns for many years, well over 660 so far, and currently appears in The NZ Farmers Weekly.

Steve was selected by an independent panel of 10 judges ahead of several other very worthy recipients to receive this prestigeous award, which was announced at an Awards Dinner in Hamilton last night.

The Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award is administered by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, and recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues, events or information.

Regarded as the premier award for agricultural communicators, it is also the most valuable prize on offer. Landcorp provides a prize of $2,500, which is part of a funding package of $7,500 in sponsorship for the Guild. . . 

Guild President, Jon Morgan, said Steve is a worthy recipient of the award this year.  His columns, comments, presentations at conferences cover an extensive range of topics, but his style remains the same, relaxed, whimsical and often humourous.   “He is widely respected as an excellent farmer,  but has that rare gift of communications that crosses all areas of rual life.”

Morgan, who is the Dominion Posts’s farming editor was last year’s winner.

Hat tip: RivettingKateTaylor

MRP “highly attractive investment”


While the Green Party is wasting money attemtping to get enough support for a Citizan’s  an MPs’ Initiated Referendum, and Labour is threatening to hold up legislation for the Mixed Ownership Model for state assets, Trans Tasman says:

Mighty River Power Looks Even More Attractive. State-owned Mighty River Power expects electricity from its latest geothermal project to be lower-cost than normally assumed for new geothermal power stations, and well below the assumed cost of new wind farms. MRP, soon to be partially privatised, says it expects the $466m Ngatamariki plant with an installed generating capacity of 82MW to produce electricity with a real longrun marginal cost less than market estimates of $80 to $85MWh. Most wind projects are assumed to require paybacks of around $100MWh. The project remains within budget and on track for commissioning in mid-2013. MRP’s success with geothermal power enhances its competitiveness in the local market and is also strengthening its international operations, both in the US and in Chile, making it a highly attractive investment proposition.

Why doesn’t the left want to allow superannuation funds, community trusts, Iwi, other groups and individuals to invest in this business?

Don’t tell me we already own it. We  don’t, the state owns it on our behalf but that is very different from having a private shareholding.

Selling a minority share of the company frees up public money for other investment, and provides a much safer investment for people than finance companies.

The loss of dividend revenue to the government will be factored into the sale price.

If some shares are bought by people or organizations from overseas that’s  welcome inwards investment and they, like all other shareholders will pay tax on any dividends.

The left are painting the sale as a loss when the state, taxpayers, shareholders and the company have much to gain from it.

June 15 in history


23 Battle of Soissons: King Robert I of France was killed and King Charles the Simple was arrested by the supporters of Duke Rudolph of Burgundy.

1184 King Magnus V of Norway was killed at the Battle of Fimreite.

1215 King John of England put his seal to the Magna Carta.

1246 With the death of Duke Frederick II, the Babenberg dynasty ended in Austria.

1389 Battle of Kosovo: The Ottoman Empire defeated Serbs and Bosnians.

1520 Pope Leo X threatened to excommunicate Martin Luther in papal bull Exsurge Domine.

1580 Philip II of Spain declared William the Silent to be   an outlaw.

1623 Cornelis de Witt, Dutch politician, was   born  (d. 1672).

1667 The first human blood transfusion was administered by Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys.

1752 Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning was electricity.

1775 American Revolutionary War: George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

1776 Delaware Separation Day – Delaware voted to suspend government under the British Crown and separate officially from Pennsylvania.

1785 Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, co-pilot of the first-ever manned flight (1783), and his companion, Pierre Romain, became the first-ever casualties of an air crash when their hot air balloon exploded during their attempt to cross the English Channel.

1804 New Hampshire approved the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratifying the document.

1808 Joseph Bonaparte became King of Spain.

1836 Arkansas was admitted as the 25th U.S. state.

1844 Charles Goodyear received a patent for vulcanization, a process to strengthen rubber.

1846 The Oregon Treaty establishes the 49th parallel as the border between the United States and Canada, from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

1859 Pig War: Ambiguity in the Oregon Treaty leads to the “Northwestern Boundary Dispute” between U.S. and British/Canadian settlers.

1864 American Civil War: The Siege of Petersburg began.

1864 Arlington National Cemetery was established when 200 acres (0.81 km2) around Arlington Mansion (formerly owned by Confederate General Robert E. Lee) were officially set aside as a military cemetery by U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

1867 Atlantic Cable Quartz Lode gold mine located in Montana.

1877 Henry Ossian Flipper becomes the first African American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy.

1888 Crown Prince Wilhelm became Kaiser Wilhelm II and is the last emperor of the German Empire.

1896 The most destructive tsunami in Japan’s history killed more than 22,000 people.

1904 A fire aboard the steamboat SS General Slocum in New York City‘s East River killed 1000.

1905 Princess Margaret of Connaught married Gustaf, Crown Prince of Sweden.

1909 Representatives from England, Australia and South Africa met at Lord’s and formed the Imperial Cricket Conference.

1910 David Rose, American songwriter, composer and orchestra leader, was born (d. 1990).

1911 W.V. Awdry, British children’s writer, was born (d. 1997).

1911 Tabulating Computing Recording Corporation (IBM) was incorporated.

1913 The Battle of Bud Bagsak in the Philippines concluded.

1916 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill incorporating the Boy Scouts of America, making them the only American youth organization with a federal charter.

1919 John Alcock and Arthur Brown completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight at Clifden, County Galway.

1920 Duluth lynchings in Minnesota.

1920 A new border treaty between Germany and Denmark gave northern Schleswig to Denmark.

1934 The U.S. Great Smoky Mountains National Park was founded.

1935 Jack Lovelock won the “Mile of the Century“.

Lovelock wins ‘Mile of the century’

1937 A German expedition led by Karl Wien lost sixteen members in an avalanche on Nanga Parbat. The worst single disaster to occur on an 8000m peak.

1943 Muff Winwood, British songwriter and bassist (Spencer Davis Group), was born.

1944 World War II: Battle of Saipan: The United States invaded Saipan.

1944 In the Saskatchewan general election, the CCF, led by Tommy Douglas, was elected and forms the first socialist government of North America.

1945 The General Dutch Youth League (ANJV) was founded in Amsterdam.

1946 Noddy Holder, British singer (Slade), was born.

1949 – Simon Callow, British actor, was born.

1949 – Russell Hitchcock, Australian singer (Air Supply), was born.

1954 UEFA (Union des Associations Européennes de Football) was formed in Basle.

1955 The Eisenhower administration stages the first annual “Operation Alert” (OPAL) exercise, an attempt to assess the USA’s preparations for a nuclear attack.

1959The Chinese Gooseberry was renamed kiwifruit.

1963 Helen Hunt, American actress, was born.

1971 Nathan Astle, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1973 Pia Miranda, Australian actress, was born.

1978 King Hussein of Jordan married American Lisa Halaby, who took the name Queen Noor.

1982 Mike Delany, All Black, was born.

1985 Rembrandt’s painting Danaë was   attacked by a man (later judged insane) who threw sulfuric acid on the canvas   and cut it twice with a knife.

1991 Birth of the first federal political party in Canada that supported Quebec nationalism, le Bloc Québécois.

1992 The United States Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Álvarez-Machaín that it was permissible for the USA to forcibly extradite suspects in foreign countries and bring them to the USA for trial, without approval from those other countries.

1994 Israel and Vatican City established full diplomatic relations.

1996 The Provisional Irish Republican Army exploded a large bomb in the middle of Manchester.

2002 Near earth asteroid 2002 MN missed the Earth by 75,000 miles (121,000 km), about one-third of the distance between the Earth and the Moon

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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