Growing Futures

Bringing in the beetroot

Bringing in the beetroot

Crop scheduling tools and management guidelines help match crop volume and size with processing capabilities

Widespread publicity on the health benefits of beetroot has contributed to a remarkable rise in global demand for the vegetable and its associated products.

In New Zealand, this demand has seen export volumes of processed beetroot increase from a 2007-11 average of 88 tonnes per annum to 18,000 tonnes currently, equating to an average annual export value of $23.4 million.

Key to this expansion is Heinz Wattie’s decision to relocate their beetroot processing operation from Australia to Hawke’s Bay to take advantage of the region’s excellent growing conditions with a state of the art production facility.

The facility processes a range of products, and this, combined with the high consumer demand for beetroot, means tight windows of opportunity for processing the vegetable at the site.

Ensuring operational efficiency means matching the required volume and size of the beetroot coming in for processing to the capabilities and needs of the facility at that particular time. Any misalignment with volume, timing, or vegetable size relative to production preferences can mean additional operational costs or a loss of revenue, as some crops might have to be bypassed or the facility may not operate at optimal capacity.

To address this issue, Plant & Food Research has conducted field experiments as part of a four-year research programme to develop crop scheduling tools and management guidelines for gaining a greater understanding of the relationships between management practices, soil fertility, crop yields and timing.

The aim is to help growers and managers with their decision-making concerning production and supply. This includes planting date and density, and the application of fertiliser relative to soil fertility.

Improving scheduling and operational efficiencies in this way helps cater to particular seasonal variations in growing conditions.

The research is believed to be the first crop modelling of its kind for beetroot, and is expected to contribute to similar studies for other vegetable industries.

The research has been funded by Callaghan Innovation and Heinz Wattie’s.

Created: September 2016

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