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Preventing black spot, one grower at a time

John Evans is the Manager of R J Flowers farm in Hawke’s Bay.

Farming in New Zealand is about taking control in one of the world’s most extreme climates. Each season farms are challenged to overcome new hurdles that can appear from anywhere.

Cost variability, policy changes, labour shortages, pests, disease, the list goes on. 
That’s why operations grow three different crops – apples, pears and kiwifruit – to maintain diversity and maintain sustainability for our business over the long term. 

It’s important to keep an ear to the ground when it comes to new farm technology. If you don’t, your business may be at risk of hundreds of known issues, and hundreds more you haven’t even thought of. Which is exactly what happened to John Evans with black spot.

“Technology has moved so far. If you don’t take advantage of it, you put your business at risk.

We’ve had a long history with black spot. Once you’ve got it, it’s hard to get under control. The level of black spot we had was largely about coverage, so we upgraded our sprayers. We’ve got a good fleet now of pretty much the latest design. 

We’ve used Sercadis more and more in the last two years - especially in our pears. It’s great to have another string to our bow and another great thing about it is its compatibility with other products. Those tank-mixes save us extra passes.

We’re fortunate in having good people who are very conscientious. We watched the forecasts and took every window of opportunity to get sprays on. We ended up having a good season, which is a huge relief. And a lot of that’s thanks to all the good work and the good product options we have to work with.

Polyram’s been a mainstay of fungicidal programmes for a phenomenal length of time, but now we’re very pleased to have both these new products. We’ve been using Sercadis for a while, but Belanty was new to us this season. It’s good to have another black spot control option. We’re a little challenged in that regard, having lost other products to changing industry standards.

It‘s important to be conscious of the bigger picture – always thinking of both now and the future, the long term.