A day in the life of a kiwi fruit grower
Megan Unsworth, a marketing executive with Zespri in Dubai, is also a part-time kiwi fruit grower in her native New Zealand. Zespri is one of the world's biggest marketers of kiwi fruit. She describes the picking season in April and May, which are winter months in the southern hemisphere, at her two farms near Auckland in North Island.
We have to wake up early to check the weather. Prior to the day of the picking, we have been notified by our pack house that our fruit is ready to pick.
The pack house coordinates the packing so that they have a constant supply of fruit available to feed their operation.
The picking gang has [also] been notified to come to our orchard. The necessary paperwork is delivered, such as the orchard map, bin cards and clearance-to-pick documentation. The weather plays a big part in picking as the fruit can only be picked when dry.
The picking contractor will phone and make sure it has not rained overnight and the fruit is dry and able to be picked.
Twenty pickers and supervisors and tractor drivers arrive and they set up for harvest. I like to greet the pickers so they know me.
Picking commences [and I show] the supervisor … the orchard boundaries. The machinery consists of tractors and trailers with three picking bins on each of them. A forklift is required to load bins on to the trucks for transportation to the pack house and then cool storage. Each picker is capable of picking 10 to 12 [360 kilogram] bins a day.
Morning tea break for 15 minutes. I like to give the pickers pikelets or scones for morning tea; they provide their own lunch and drinks. This means that I need to spend time baking for the big day.
Afternoon tea and smoke. During the harvest I like to walk behind the pickers with my own picking bag to harvest the fruit that they have missed. I also check the fruit being placed into the bins and remove any stalks that remain on the fruit as these can damage other fruits. As a grower, I have been given an estimation of the crop production and I keenly monitor this during the day.
The day for me ends with a tally up of bins that have been harvested.
It's time to think about heading home, checking if the children have prepared for dinner, and catching the TV1 News to see what the weather forecast is for tomorrow.
In bed sound asleep.
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