To All Those Experienced Orchardists in the Kiwifruit Capital of the World - 'A Wee Bit of History' From Te Puke Nurseries

Thursday 21 September 2017, 6:20PM
By Beckie Wright

Back in the 40’s 50’s and 60’s, orchardists in No 3 Rd Te Puke were growing Chinese gooseberries. Some called them ‘Chinas’. Bruno, Abbott and later Hayward made up the varieties. The plants training system was basically a fence, with the top wire at 6’ and another ½ way up the post. The laterals were cut back or ‘hedgehogged’. So, working with these spiky vines was hazardous, especially when picking fruit, as the laterals were facing you. All those orchardists have been lacerated in the eye with a sharp, sometimes hairy, vine.

The shelterbelts on those early orchards were lombardy  poplars, cypress-lawson and benthamii, phebalium, sometimes pine and later cryptomeria. In the 70’s, a poplar rust blew in from Aussie and pretty well wiped out the lombardy poplar from all the fruit growing areas except the cooler areas where they still grow okay. New poplars have now been developed.

The industry then quickly caught on to a fast growing tree willow called salix matsudane, a tree willow. This discovery, coupled with rapid orchard developments led to mass shelterbelt planting. The government Plant Material Centre in Palmerston North used S.matsudana as the female parent and crossed it with male willows from around the world. In the early 80’s they released two batches of clones. These ground and water robbing vigorous trees became the bugbear of many poor orchardists who renamed them with colourful international language.

During the late 70’s nurseries had started producing casuarinas, cas cunninghamii and cas.glauca. They were fast at 1.5m a year, evergreen and had a semi open structure giving an ideal wind porosity, making them useful to let cool air travel through, thus avoiding such heavy frost damage to crops. The cas,glauca tolerated wet ground and was recommended for the ‘flats’ of Te Puke and Edgecumbe, but its form was twisty and gnarly. The cas,cuninghamii proved to be mildly vulnerable to phytophthera when over watered. So Te Puke Nurseries concentrate on a hybrid form of casuarinas with the best attributes of both which they named Supercasy’s. These are faster- up to 2m/year –with a strong upright form, phytophthera resistant, and, casuarinas are the only shelter belts -natural or artificial-that do not harbour PSA.

This month Te Puke Nurseries are specialing, to experienced orchardists, all field grown casuarinas. . 20-30% discount for the month of September 2017, so for more information on shelter trees, plants for sale NZ and Kiwi fruit vines please go to .