M A Orchards is situated in South Canterbury, New Zealand just north of Timaru at Levels. M A Orchards planted the first orchard in 2012 and now have 5 separate orchards growing Honeycrisp apples for the export market. Honeycrisp apples were originally developed at the University of Minnesota and released to growers in 1991. Since then the Honeycrisp apple has become extremely popular due to its crunch and balance of sweetness and acidity. Honeycrisp need a colder climate to develop their texture and flavour, which makes Timaru an ideal location. We now have 77.9 hectares of land with 182,271 Honeycrisp trees planted.
There are a lot of tasks that need to be completed to ensure our apples are of a high quality, we have a strong team of permanent staff who help us achieve this task. Samples are also taken from the different blocks, counting the number of buds or fruit on the trees to give us an idea on the yield for the season.
In order for all the tree husbandry tasks to be complete to a high standard, we have a team of supervisors who help train and monitor the progress of orchard staff. They are there to help you understand the task at hand and monitor how quickly your team is progressing through each task.
During the growing season from October till harvest in March we have a lot of action around the orchards. As we operate organically, we require the orchards to be constantly mowed in rotation during the season, as well as brush cutting, and other trellis work where required.
The trees need irrigated, meaning there is constant maintenance of our irrigation system happening to ensure water is used efficiently only where it is required. We also have trapping and monitoring to find out what pests are present in the orchard and if we need to intervene.
Once the fruit is starting to mature in late January is when maturity testing starts to see what blocks are maturing faster than others. This allows us to prepare equipment and teams to start picking the fruit for harvest. Harvest is the best time of year for us, the weather is still sunny and there is a awesome atmosphere out on the orchards.