Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Cover story

Specialist vegetable seed production such as this hybrid radish, pictured, has the potential to produce a lucrative cropping return.

The crop, being grown by Canterbury Seed and Winslow Ltd, has been attracting the attention of motorists on State Highway 1 just south of Ashburton. It is covered in a fabric mesh netting to keep birds at bay.

Canterbury Seed Production Manager Mark Collie said the birds posed a serious threat. At around $1000 a hectare to cover, it was a serious business, but the protection was needed to get optimum yield.

Management at certain stages of growth is critical to the overall outcome.

The crop was planted early in spring and is expected to be harvested late this month. The seed is destined for Asia where the resultant crop is grown as a vegetable and eaten as a root crop.

Collie said the radish could be a lucrative option for New Zealand cropping farmers if the pollination and pricing were right. A close relationship with the beekeeper was key as the plants – both male and female – were grown. Both must be flowering and pollinated at the same time. Following pollination the male plants were removed, producing a distinctly manicured crop.

To meet customer specifications and produce varietal purity the hybrid radish must be kept in isolation from other radish crops to ensure plants are true to type.

“The growing from planting to harvest is a specialist job,” Collie said. “Timing is critical all the way to get the best-quality seed and the best return.”

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