Central Otago Young Fruit Grower starts this Friday

22 May 2018

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Six of Central Otago’s young fruit growers will face off in the Central Otago Young Fruit Grower of the Year competition in Cromwell on Friday, 25 May.

The champion will progress to the Young Grower of the Year national final, to be held in Hawke’s Bay in August. There, they will join the winners of the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, and Nelson regional fruit-grower competitions, as well as two Young Vegetable Growers, to see who will be named the national Young Grower of the Year 2018.

This year’s entrants are:

- Jonathan Bates, 25, foreman for Van der Voort’s in Roxburgh.

- Jordan Carroll, 22, cherry grower at El Pedregal Orchard in Earnscleugh.

- Hamish Darling, 21, orchardist at Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, Cromwell.

- Sam Hobbs, 25, orchard manager at Hobbs Family Partnership Orchard, Roxburgh / operations assistant at Darlings Fruit Ltd, Ettrick.

- Adam Low, 27, orchard assistant at Leaning Rock Cherries in Alexandra.

- Sam Struthers, 21, orchard hand at Parkburn Management in Cromwell.

Contestants will demonstrate their knowledge and skills around topics vital to the management of a successful orchard, including irrigation, pest and disease identification first aid, and soils. The winner will be decided at an awards dinner on Friday, where they will speak to an audience from throughout the industry about the pros and cons of seasonal accommodation.

Prizes for the winner include sponsorship to attend the annual Horticulture Conference in July, and an all-expenses paid trip to compete for the national 2018 Young Grower of the Year title in August. There are also prizes for the winners of each individual competition event.

The Central Otago Young Fruit Grower competition is organised by Grant McKay regional manager of Horticentre and is a high point of the local industry’s calendar.

"Young Grower is about mentoring and challenging the contestants to be the best they can, putting their skills and knowledge to the test," says Grant. "We’re looking forward to an excellent day."

Mike Chapman, chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, agrees on the importance of showcasing young people in the industry.

"The Central Otago regional event is always a highlight, with such enthusiastic and talented young people each and every year," says Mike. "It’s exciting to see our young industry leaders in action, showing what’s actually involved in being, and becoming, a better grower."

The Central Otago Young Fruit Grower competition will be held at the Horticulture Training Facility, Otago Polytechnic in Cromwell, on Friday 25 May, and the awards dinner will follow at The Moorings, Cromwell that evening.

For more information on the competition and tickets, visit www.younggrower.co.nz.