Farmer reluctance to testing – John Lewis:
A Federated Farmers president is not surprised to hear some in the industry are asking staff to avoid getting Covid-19 tests, saying many simply feel they cannot afford to be out of action.
It comes as the Government works on a policy to keep farmers working, with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor not ruling out the possibility of vaccinated, asymptomatic staff who tested positive continuing working within their bubbles.
Otago and Southland farmers, spoken to on the agreement they would not be named, admitted they knew farmers who had asked staff to avoid being tested if they were symptomatic for Covid-19.
A Southland sheep and beef farmer said he vowed to never get tested for Covid-19 because of the impact testing positive would have on his farm. . .
New Zealand’s apple and pear crop for 2022 is predicted to reach 601,000 tonnes, closely in line with long term forecasting.
Assuming fruit is able to be picked and packed, export volume could be slightly higher than 2020 levels, which dropped following the disastrous Boxing Day hail event in the Nelson region. However, the lingering question on growers’ minds across the country is how much of the 2022 crop will get picked as the Omicron storm clouds gather. In any normal year, the crop estimate is based on the potential volume and assumes a normal growing season without adverse weather events or menacing labour and supply chain issues. Unfortunately, 2022 will not be a normal year.
With a potential 23.2 million 18kg boxes destined for customers in more than 80 countries, a very good growing season so far has provided increased sized fruit with high sunshine and warmth giving fruit size, colour, and crispness. Quality is particularly important as the industry continues to move to apple and pear varieties that it has developed within its own Prevar research programme. The variety mix continues to diversify as traditionally grown varieties such as Braeburn and Royal Gala decline in volume and New Zealand owned Dazzle, Envy, Piqa-Boo, and Rockit increase.
New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI) chief executive Terry Meikle says however, the increased crop volume and quality must be tempered by the fact that Omicron has now firmly established itself in New Zealand. . .
Sunflowers hitting peak bloom – Rebecca Ryan:
Fields of sunflowers are brightening up rural North Otago once again.
Topflite’s sunflowers, grown by Rosedale Farming Co Ltd, have become an annual attraction in the Waitaki district, and they are about to hit their full height and golden glory.
Topflite general manager Greg Webster said the crops had developed slightly later than previous years, but were really ‘‘cranking’’ now.
‘‘They’ve been definitely enjoying the sunshine that we’ve had lately — and they’re looking good,’’ Mr Webster said. . .
A recent Consumer NZ investigation of 20 extra-virgin olive oils revealed that some oils labelled as New Zealand also contain imported oils.
“Most oils state the origin of the olives or oil, but not all are upfront, and you could be forgiven for thinking some New Zealand olive oils are made from 100 percent New Zealand olives,”, said Consumer NZ research writer Belinda Castles.
Despite Matapiro New Zealand 100% Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Village Press First Press Extra-Virgin Olive Oil stating New Zealand on the front label, there’s no mention where the olives or oil comes from.
Matapiro said its oil was blended with Australian olive oil to meet demand. The company is hoping to return to wholly New Zealand grown olives and oil soon. . .
The challenge is heating up for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series, with a new sponsor giving competitors the chance to showcase their smarts when it comes to environmental protection and regulation.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has officially joined the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series family.
NZ Young Farmers CEO Lynda Coppersmith says all competitors and NZ Young Farmers’ members have a genuine passion for the environment and preserving it for future generations which makes EPA a great addition to the Contest Series.
“Understanding and creating solutions to problems our environment is currently facing it is such an important part of farming and protecting the land we live on and love. It will be hugely beneficial for contestants to be challenged on this first-hand and to think more about the best ways to enhance and preserve our way of life into the future.” . .
‘Horrendous’ Wheatbelt bushfires still pose a threat, says fire chief – John Dobson, Peter Barr, Paul Cook,:
Fires that tore through Western Australia’s agricultural heartland overnight scorching farmland and destroying homes still pose a threat.
Twin fires hit the Wheatbelt, about 250km east of Perth, yesterday afternoon as catastrophic fire conditions throughout the region brought gusty winds and temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius.
The bushfires came after two other major fires destroyed homes in southern WA on Saturday in Denmark and Bridgetown in a horrific weekend for firefighters.
On Sunday afternoon, four emergency bushfires were burning at once across the south of the state. . .