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Bostock NZ aims to capture organic onion export opportunities

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Bostock New Zealand aims to capture huge untapped export opportunities for Southern Hemisphere organic onions using the latest technology, growing systems and expertise out of Europe.

Bostock New Zealand’s owner John Bostock said worldwide, the demand for organic onions is huge, especially in Europe where there is a major gap in supply before its domestic crop comes on the market.

"However, the challenge for us is to make it economically viable to grow and export organic onions from New Zealand so our international customers have a year-round supply of higher valued, premium quality, GM Free organic produce.

To help, Bostock New Zealand has invested in the international expertise of Talis Bosma, a top student from an organic agricultural college in the Netherlands, who is working alongside the experienced local team on a field trial of organic onions on 2.7ha leased from the Peacock family in Twyford, Hastings.

Along with successfully growing organic onions, Mr Bostock said the aim of the field trial was to transfer the knowledge gained across the company’s conventional crops.

"This is all part of Bostock New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to leading the world with improved, sustainable growing practices and protecting the environment, he said.

"The biggest challenge when growing onions is weed and pest control, which is why conventional growing methods rely so heavily on a spray regime to make it economical to export in large volumes.

"We’re confident, through this trial, we will be able to reduce, if not eliminate, the high dependency sprays, he said.

Bostock New Zealand’s Growing Manager Chris Zuiderwijk said it was critical to create a stale seedbed so the onions can grow weed free.

"We invested in a new state of the art weed flamer to burn off the existing weeds, then cultivated the top layer of the paddock using a new finger tine weeder to carefully remove any weed seeds.

"We planted the onions on October 13 and then did another round of flame weeding just before the plants came through the soil.

To combat onions’ susceptibility to Downy mildew, Mr Zuiderwikj said Bostock New Zealand had sourced a disease resistant seed.

Depending on the growing season, the Thrips insect might be a problem, and that was all part of the trial, he said.

"The crop’s growing well and we plan to harvest in late February. We are confident the trial will be successful and are committed to turning it into a full scale export production next season," he said.

Bostock New Zealand has also used the new technology on some of its squash to help with weed control and limiting spraying.

Bostock New Zealand’s apples are organic or in conversion to organic, along with Bostock’s Organic Free Range Chickens. Many other crops are grown both organically and conventionally. The aim of Bostock New Zealand is to have all crops grown 100% organic in the future.

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