Getting it Right for the Future

Andy McGrath - McGrath Nurseries

"You are literally planning their livelihoods for many years ahead"

These days it seems that there are so many new varieties of apple on the market, but how do you make sure you have the right apple, in the right market and at the right price? There is also still a big demand for the old well know varieties of apple, so how do you make sure you get good trees when planting a new orchard. It all starts with the getting the right breeder, good quality trees and the right partners along the chain.

McGrath Nurseries have built up a good reputation in the industry over the years. They have been producing of apple, pear, peach, nectarine, apricot, plum and cherry trees in Cambridge, New Zealand since 1980. As well as producing hundreds of fruit trees, McGrath also manages the intellectual property rights of many varieties.

The trees are grown on two sites which total 88 hectares, and sit at a latitude of 39 degrees where the climate is mild and risk of frost is minimal, the soils are excellent and there is an even rainfall pattern.

The demand for trees in New Zealand currently out stretches supply and trees are on order a couple of years in advance. "We try to match production to the market demand," explains Andy McGrath, owner of the company. "The current crop is all sold and so is next year's."

The company uses seasonal staff when it comes time for digging the trees, at peak season there are 40 workers and 13 permanent staff. The 2019 crop is just about to be planted, it is mostly sold so they won't take any more orders for it at the moment. Buying trees can be a big investment for growers so Andy tries to work out payment plans which suit everyone.

A good relationship with your customer is very important according to Andy, "We plan orchards for growers and help them decide which varieties to plant, this is a huge responsibility. You are literally planning their livelihoods for many years ahead. You need to be certain you provide good disease free trees, we regularly have independent experts come into our growing areas to tests, so we can ensure a great quality tree is going out." 

McGrath also owns the master licence for the new apple variety KORUĀ®, which is currently taking off in the states. "There is a high degree of fatality with new varieties as we are all fighting for shelf space. You need to be quite consumer focussed when introducing a new variety. The standard of apples on the market has increased considerably in the last few years and you need to have great quality to be at the top of the apple game and a great marketing campaign."

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