Friday, May 23, 2014

From Here South.

I'll be a bit quiet this week as we are having a holiday. Today we fly from Tauranga airport ( above ) via Auckland to Nelson at the top of the South Island ( of New Zealand. ) The weather forecast is not good...high winds as we get down there....I hope it's not too rough. I'll report back when I can.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kiwifruit Being Packed.

 This is a tray of  big kiwifruit which all weigh between 151 to 180 grams. There are 22 in the tray.
 Here's how the process goes.
 In my last post about picking there were photos of bins of fruit leaving our orchard on trucks. This is where they came to ( - the packhouse and coolstore )and sat for 48 hours to cure.
 The forklift driver picks up 3 bins at a time and brings them to the machine that tips them out onto a big conveyor belt which carries them past big brushes into the packhouse.
 The fruit then passes across grading tables which roll the fruit in front of the graders who remove the fruit that is not up to export grade standard.

 By her right hand is a chute that she put the rejects down to be carried away.

 Here is the quality controllers supervisor having an extra look ( can't be very comfortable! )
The fruit then travels up a singulator which lands each fruit in little cups that weigh the fruit to decide which tray of box it belongs in.
 Here is a view from upstairs looking down on the lines of packing arms each for a different size.
 The black part down the middle are the weighing cups that let the fruit go at the right packing lane.
 Here the packer at the big fruit lane is using a frame to check that the fruit is not too flat. It needs to be round.
 This packer is tucking the liner around the fruit to stop it drying out.
 She then pushes the box along to the end of the arm.
 A label is printed and stuck on the tray or box.
 The boxes are then stacked onto a pallet base.
 The Quality Controllers come and take boxes which they then inspect under magnification to make sure the fruit is "in Grade" for export.

 The pallets then get trolleyed to this automatic pallet strapping machine.
 Here's a strapped pallet of trays of fruit size 36 (  each fruit weighs between 98 and 110 grams ). The pallet card has all the details about whose fruit; when packed and has a orange sticker  that means it is is Y taste band ( that's good! )
 Then it's off to the cool store for the pallets to be pre - cooled and stored till they go for their big over seas trip to some part of the world.
 This is where the rejected fruit comes to the reject bin(s). I can see a couple of flat fruit in there but you can see there is not a great deal wrong with the fruit. The standards are very high for Zespri export Kiwifruit. ( there are 32 different reasons a fruit may be rejected! )
 I don't wish to end with that so here is a tray of big fruit being nestled carefully into it's plix before it's long journey to maybe your place ? It will travel by ship . Zespri  ( New Zealand ) kiwifruit goes  to 55 different countries.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Kiwifruit Picking 2014.

The weather on Friday for our Kiwifruit picking was
clear and bright. Here forklift driver Josh unloads empty bins to put the fruit in.
 The load out area is busy all day with new supplies of empty bins coming in and full bins going out and off to the pack house.
Truckie and R have time to chat.( I was mainly at the table under the gazebo being the office lady and keeping tabs on everyone. )( sometimes I snuck off to take photos )
Here's a happy picker.  It is difficult to take good photos under the vines where the fruit is being picked. Dappled light being the problem.
 And another.
 Ken the picking Supervisor in the orange vest works with the pickers all day ensuring careful fruit handling; no stalks and bins not too full. The tractor drivers has hopped off while the tractor is stopped and as he is wearing gloves he picks  a few fruit straight into the bin. He moves the tractor with the 3 bins on the trailer along to keep pace with the pickers so they don't have far to walk with a full bag. There were 4 tractors and this would you believe is one of the tractors that got supplied!
 Not surprisingly it lasted till 10.15 then this.

 Phil trying to fix it.
 My tractor was got out of the shed and worked for the rest of the day( it happens nearly every year. )

 Here it is. Driver Royal drove it with care as I told him it was used to a lady driver.

 Here driver Reece is levelling out the top of the bin.
 Here is driver Mauricio ( from Chile ) doing the same thing, with picker Mana
 emptying his picking bag.
 Driver Sam takes his load back along the track to the loading area,

 See how the trailer tips so the bins can slide off the back.
 Small flaps hold the bins in the rest of the time.( here one bin is off 2 more to follow) - it usually takes a bit of a jerk to get them started.
 The Truckee helps by stapling on the bin cards ( with our picking number and the date and a consecutive number) while the fork lift unloads his truck.
 Here he is now waving to the photographer as he set off with his load of full bins to the pack house across town.

 Another load went on this curtain sider. 9 loads went out in all.   283 field bins full of our Kiwifruit. Surprisingly it was 5.5 bins more than last year so again I can say that is our record pick. I wonder how well it will pack out. We have been across to MPAC this afternoon to see our fruit being packed. It will take about 6 hours..... photos of that on the next post.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Progress !

 My little blocks for a baby quilt are now a quilt top at the flimsy stage. It is lying on the table over a rectangle of batting and also backing fabric and won't take my long to pin baste later.
 I like it and have lovely backing fabric to back and bind it with. I went specially to get something suitable on Saturday when our group was invited to Katipatch for the morning.( with a 10% discount ). I had quite a stock up.( all things I needed so that was excellent.)
 Progress has also been made on the 2 felt embroidered balls I have on the go. What motifs to put on that are different than ones I have done before seems to be the hardest part.( photos of those soon )
Lots of gardening has taken place. Some bare spaces have been filled with seedlings and so far they are doing well.Autumn leaves are everywhere so the garden gets messy looking.  I have some iceland poppies out which always make me pleased even if their presence is fleeting especially if it rains ( which it has been doing ).
 This one has hardly had time to completely unfurl it's petals.
 Progress is also being made in the orchard! As I write this the sprayer is in the orchard applying the final clean up spray to the kiwifruit. It washes off bird poo and stains. 2 of the 4  tractors to tow bin trailers have arrived. The sun is shinning. Picking will begin early tomorrow morning if it doesn't rain in the meantime. The forecast looks good. We got the results of the final 96 fruit sample that was taken and the brix ( sugar levels ) are now up to 8.4% soluble solids, so it really needs to be picked( but should keep well in the coolstore ). We have eaten a couple that were ripe because they were damaged and they are indeed very tasty. We have been doing all the last minute preparations for days (so they really aren't  last minute at all ) and some will need to be repeated cause we thought we might have been having our turn at picking last weekend.
 The next blog post here should therefore be about Kiwifruit picking. This is the 32nd crop we have picked for export. Back in 1983 we picked just 329 export trays. So, so much has changed in that time . Last years we picked 26,279 export trays our best ever total. This time it won't be that many but still looks a good crop.
 A busy day or days ( depending on how many pickers we get and how things go ) ahead. Progress at last. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

More Butterflies.

I haven't send the male Blue moon butterfly again but I did get to track down a female nearby and some other NZ butterflies.
 I found this female Blue moon up in the park behind us. It was with lots of Monarchs and other Little  Blues and Yellow Admirals .
Below is the yellow admiral and a wasp. All on the same plants.
 We have since had rain so I don't know how they will have faired. When I was watching the female Blue moon it kept flying up to the rock wall behind this plant and spreading it's wings; I imagine to soak up the heat.

Friday, May 02, 2014


Our Luculia tree lures many different insect visitors, every year around this time and for the next few months, when it is in flower. Never before a Bluemoon butterfly ( known in Australia as the great eggfly). hypolimnas-bolina. 
 This is a male. The female looks rather different.
 I think this Luculia is a gratissima variety "Apple Blossom."   It has been in the garden for 36 + years. It gets constantly pruned back.
 The leaves, just a few at a time, become a brilliant red before they drop. It is not a deciduous tree. It is native to the Himalayas.
 Often there are Monarch butterflies on it; also ladybirds;
 the red and black sort and these iridescent beauties.

 Bees as well. ( there are wasps too) 
This luculia has an alluring delicate perfume up close. Care needs to be taken if you are burying your nose in the blooms.
 We are wondering how that butterfly got here. Did it come across the Tasman in the last storm or from a butterfly garden here in N Z? As far as I know it did not come from the Quarry butterfly garden ( they haven't any), but at Easter when we were at the local garden centre there were 2 female Bluemoons flying around all the flowering plants there; particularly the native Hebes. 

 My pile of little blocks has grown since I showed you last, but it has slowed because the weather these last few days has been glorious and I have been gardening mainly. We are in holding mode waiting for our turn to get the Kiwifruit picked. It is ready.