Posted on February 26, 2015
Nursery expansion to accommodate demand for Manuka and amenity plants
With the huge interest in Manuka forestry plantings, Kauri Park has had to expand its nursery to accommodate the demand for more plants. A large area is currently being prepared to accommodate another 2,000,000 Manuka and amenity plants.
Kauri Park Nurseries have established a plant selection and breeding program aimed at identifying Manuka cultivars which exhibit high UMF and increased productivity. KPN has identified certain provenances with higher average DHA levels in the nectar but have also selected high DHA plants from a wide range of provenances including South Island provenances and semi alpine provenances.
Higher MGO levels in the honey is mostly derived from high dihydroxyacetone (DHA) levels in the nectar of the flower. Kauri Park Nurseries (KPN) are testing the DHA in the nectar in large numbers of plants from many provenances throughout New Zealand. This is leading to identification of superior plants which are currently being multiplied by cuttings and seed.
Manuka do well in a wide range of soil types including sand, volcanic, clay, peat, limestone, alpine and pakihi soils. They seem to grow well in swampy soils where the roots of the plant never dry out. They also grow well in barren windswept hillsides where they are constantly battered by salt laden winds.
When selecting a site for a new forest, take into consideration the proximity of indigenous Manuka forests, physical barriers for bees such as a wide block of pines or wide expanse of water which may help to isolate the bees from travelling to non Manuka nectar sources. A good planting site is a sheltered valley with high hills on either side. Manuka thrives particularly well on northern and eastern facing hillsides. Try to avoid planting a new site that is nearby to a large source of non Manuka nectar. A new forest should ideally be 50ha or larger.
For a new plantation of Manuka, Kauri Park Nurseries would generally recommend planting the local provenance along with plants grown from other provenances, to spread the flowering duration over a minimum of 12 weeks. Consideration is also taken for the ability of a provenance to withstand hard frosts and winter snow.
Kauri Park Nurseries supplies plants and planting services for Manuka plantations. The traditional planting rate is 1250 plants per ha. For more gentle contoured land, Manuka can be grown in hedgerows at a planting rate of 2500 plants per ha. The hedgerows can be kept trimmed, with the trimmings being able to be sold for leaf oil extraction. The trimmed plants can be maintained in a juvenile state thereby substantially increasing the plants longevity.
The first honey harvest begins in year 3 with maximum honey yields occurring from year 6 onwards.
Pollen rich species such as Tree Lucerne (Chamaecytisus palmensis) should be planted around the apiary site to provide pollen for bee brood.