New Zealand Seed Industry News

This page features a compilation and selection of New Zealand seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in and of the island country of Maori Aotearoa, AKA New Zealand. 

The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.

This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.


2023 News


New grain and seeds standard: February 2: The New Zealand delegation to the World Trade Organization’ SPS has notified the SPS (G/SPS/N/NZL/708) a move to amend its Import Health Standard: Grain and Seeds for Consumption, Feed or Processing. The new import health standard, dated 2 February 2023 will replace the earlier version of the standard dated 22 December 2022. The amendment is to remove the following viruses form the Phaseolus spp. and Pisum spp. pest list, along with the specific import requirements for these viruses in the specified hosts:

Phaseolus spp.:

  • Broad bean mottle virus
  • Cowpea severe mosaic virus
  • Pea early-browning virus
  • Peanut mottle virus

Pisum spp.:

  • Peanut mottle virus
  • Peanut stunt virus

The delegation is taking comment until April 8, 2023, when the new standard is set to take effect. Details.

Plant virus found on tomato crops: January 4: Biosecurity NZ is monitoring for any further signs of a plant virus, PSTVd, found in a commercial crop in Tasman district, located in the northwest of South Island. It can cause yield losses in tomatoes and potatoes, but is not a concern for human or animal health. The infected glasshouses were destroyed and the area disinfected, with controls on the movement of risk items. The virus has been found and eradicated in New Zealand on two other occasions. Biosecurity NZ is investigating the source and tracing seeds and rootstock of the infected crop. Read original story here

Proposal to amend seed import health standards: New Zealand has proposed an amendment to its previously announced import health standard Seeds for Sowing (155.02.05) to the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization. The latest notification that was circulated amongst NPPOs early in 2023 (G/SPS/N/NZL/688/Add.1) includes several import requirements and modifications of content and/or scope of previously notified draft regulations. One of the measures is allowing small seed lots of species eligible to import under specific requirements to be tested as composite samples for the presence of quarantine pests, offshore prior to export or on-arrival in New Zealand. There is also an option for Phaseolus (bean) and Pisum (pea) seeds to be tested for the presence of quarantine pests, offshore prior to export. A phytosanitary certificate is now required for Raphanus sativus (radish) seeds for sowing. Additionally, Matthiola incana and Cyperus papyrus have been added to the list of species approved for import as pelleted seed, while several pests have been removed from pest lists and measures for these pests.

Moreover, an additional trade-enabling option has been added to the import requirements for small seed lots of eligible species. Small seed lots can now be produced from parent plants that are officially tested for the presence of quarantine virus pests and inspected during the growing season for quarantine bacterial pests. The exporting country's national plant protection organization must provide an additional declaration on the phytosanitary certificate to endorse that the measure has been performed according to the requirements of the import health standard.

The additional declaration for the quarantine pest Anguina tritici in the specific requirements for Triticum seeds for sowing has been changed to: "The Triticum seeds have been: inspected microscopically in accordance with official procedures and Anguina tritici was not detected". Previously, this declaration required that "no Anguina tritici spores were detected", which is irrelevant to this pest as it is a nematode. 

More details in this document and this one

Predicted increase for seed export earnings: December 2022: New June Year data released by the Ministry for Primary Industries predicts seed exports to rise 5%, reaching $265m in 2023. Vegetable seed prices are expected to be the key growth driver, despite a 3% drop in 2021/22 revenue due to a challenging harvest. Details.

NZGSTA updates: 

The following updates were covered in a recent newsletter from the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association:

New Zealand Seed Authority Update: The Seed Certification Information System (SCIS) project is progressing with major functions completed and only minor requirements to be addressed before SCIS can be employed. Planned integrations include the AsureQuality field Inspection application, label printing software, and seed lab management system. NZSA, AsureQuality, and the Ministry for Primary Industries are collaborating to enable SCIS role out by autumn and affected seed companies and growers receiving NZSA support to get SCIS up and running. Other discussions taking place around the executive table include soil contamination, formal recognition of seed analyst proficiency and the development of a new services agreement between the NZSA and AsureQuality for the provision of certification services. 

AsureQuality recently announced a 10% increase for all seed lab testing and associated services - the first price rise in a number of years. The new schedule of fees came into effect on Feb 1st and is in line with the MoU between NZSA and AQ. All signed agreements and valid quotes will not be affected. The latest price list can be accessed here: Click here. To find out more, please email or call 06 351 7941

Most regulatory services ceased operations from December 24 to January 10.

Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid detected (Nov 2022)

In November 2022, PSTVd was detected on tomatoes in a commercial greenhouse in Nelson. The virus affects solanaceous plants, including potato, tomato, pepino, and capsicum but does not pose a food safety issue. The infection has been contained with strict protocols and affected plant material destroyed. Symptoms include stunted plants, spots/streaks on fruit, and yellow/grey leaves. Markets access and seed imports are currently not impacted.

Fall Armyworm Update

A total of 93 cases of Fall Armyworm have been confirmed since Sept 1, 2022, and as of Jan 27, 2023, 12 of these were from the South Island's West Coast. No other regions in the east have had detections, but vigilance is encouraged. SpartaTM (spinetoram) is now approved for maize and sweet corn crops. All finds must be reported to or 0800 80 99 66 

See NZGSTA newsletter here.

2022 News


2022 News


Plant breeders welcome new Plant Variety Rights legislation 22 November 2022: New Zealand’s industry body for plant breeders has welcomed the passage of the Plant Variety Rights Bill. The PVR Bill, replaces legislation first designed in 1987, was passed by the Parliament today. 

“After many years of lobbying our domestic plant laws have been finally brought into line with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants convention — also known as “UPOV 91” said Thomas Chin, Plant Breeding & Research Association general manager.

“Plant breeders are looking to take up the benefits under UPOV 91 as soon as possible as it gives rights holders’ strengthen protections to safe guard their intellectual property.

“For New Zealand growers access is opened to a greater range of new varieties which may assist their competitive position in world agricultural markets.

“One significant reform area sees the law clarify the practice of farm saved seed and for regulations to be made to enable breeders to obtain royalties from farmers who save and replant seed of protected varieties. The use of non-proprietary varieties will not incur any royalty payment.

“Additional funding for breeding programs from royalties would help incentivise the development of new and improved pasture and arable genetics for farmers and crop end users”.

Chin observed that breeding new varieties with improved traits such as increased yield, more nutritional quality, or better resistance to disease and pests requires substantial investment of financial resources, adding that it can take up to 10 years to develop a new variety for commercial release.

Elsewhere, plant breeders continue their discussions with farmer representatives and government officials to design a royalty administration and collection system, concludes Mr Chin. More information, visit NZGSTA website here.

Public Consultation to update legume and nut seed pest list: The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries recently held a public consultation to amend its Import Health Standard (IHS): Seeds for Sowing (155.02.05). Based on input coordinated by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association with support from the International Seed Federation in accordance with organizations advocacy for science-based policy, MPI is considering the following amendments.

1) removing Broad bean mottle virus, Cowpea severe mosaic virus, Pea early-browning virus, and Peanut mottle virus from the pest list for Phaseolus seed for sowing, along with the specific requirements for these viruses

2) removing Peanut mottle virus and Peanut stunt virus from the pest list for Pisum seeds for sowing, along with the specific requirements for these viruses.

Citing scientific literature review and guidance from ISPM 38 on the international movement of seed as justification for the ammendments, MPI stated that there was not enough evidence that these diseases were seed-borne or seed-transmitted.

“MPI proactively monitors new information through our Emerging Risks System. This includes monitoring information on seed-borne and seed-transmissible pests on hosts  eligible to be imported into New Zealand as seeds for sowing.” 

The consultation document, which contains specific literature references can be found here

Q3 news

MPI considering amending pest list based on industry input: August: The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries recently held a public consultation to amend its Import Health Standard (IHS): Seeds for Sowing (155.02.05). Based on input coordinated by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association with support from the International Seed Federation in accordance with organizations advocacy for science-based policy, MPI is considering the following amendments.

1) removing Broad bean mottle virus, Cowpea severe mosaic virus, Pea early-browning virus, and Peanut mottle virus from the pest list for Phaseolus seed for sowing, along with the specific requirements for these viruses

2) removing Peanut mottle virus and Peanut stunt virus from the pest list for Pisum seeds for sowing, along with the specific requirements for these viruses.


Certis Belchim BV acquires assets of Henry Manufacturing Limited, New Zealand: August 8: Certis Belchim BV announced that it has reached agreement with Henry Manufacturing Limited (HML) to acquire all tangible and intangible assets, including intellectual property, associated with its portfolio and pipeline of potassium fatty-acid salts and their various applications in crop protection. The portfolio comprises a range of products and formulations currently targeting powdery mildew and Botrytis in vines. Source.

Cold weather hoped to curb Fall army worm infestation: July 19: Fall armyworm has now been confirmed at 26 properties across the country. However, according to Ministry of Primary Industries director of readiness and response services, John Walsh, the colder weather will mean that the worm will have less time to establish itself, and that successive generations will dwindle out in three or four life cycles. Read more here and here

Heavy rainfall in Queensland causing produce shortage: July 13: Crop losses due to extreme rainfall on the east coast of Australia will mean that consumers in New Zealand will experience a shortage of many fruits and vegetables. Farmers in Queensland are warning of reduced supply and quality of a wide range of produce including strawberries, leeks, asparagus, and beans. Source

Govt to inject $10 million ‘climate cash’ to seed conservation: July 12: The government of New Zealand will allocate $10 million of its $1.3 billion climate aid fund towards the conservation of Pacific crop seeds and researching climate-resilient varieties. Half of the funds will be granted over five years to the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT), based in Fiji, and “which has worked to conserve 17 Pacific crops including yam, coconut and 70 percent of the world's taro varieties since 1998.” The remaining funds would be provided to the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is a funding mechanism for the world's gene banks. See Climate funding to support Pacific seed crops | RNZ News as well as story here.

Struggles of New Zealand veg sector does not bode well: July 7: A large-scale fresh produce grower has warned that national food security is under threat from wage and fertilizer trends. For one, vegetable growers aren’t able to compete in terms of wages with the country’s high-value fruit export sector; further to this, prices for land, transport, fertilizer, fuel and high inflation are also adversely impacting vegetable production. Source

Q2 news

PVR regime consultation open: April 13: Consultation has opened on an exposure draft of the proposed regulations to support the new Plant Variety Rights (PVR) regime. This consultation also seeks feedback on a proposal to revise the seed quantities required to be provided with a PVR application. Feedback during this consultation period will be accepted until 5pm, Friday 20 May. APSA has engaged the New Zealand Grain & Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA)  on this process and will follow up with more details. Meanwhile see this link for further details.

Q1 news

Labor shortages threatening grain harvest: January 31: Farmers are bearing the brunt of labor shortages in New Zealand, with some farmers warning that crops could soon be rotting in the fields if imported labor is not secured in short course. According to reports, the government has blamed Omicron for delays in authorizing migrant labor, and some Canterbury farmers have warned that this could result in the cost of bread to rise. Meanwhile, some farms are reportedly seeking the help of milk tanker drivers “to pilot combines and tractors over the coming weeks” Full story here.

Invasive mothplant threatening native Kiwi bugs: January 27: Biosecurity authorities are urging New Zealand residents to take measures to stamp out the invasive moth plant, which is posing a threat to New Zealand’s native landscape, especially in  Northland, Auckland, northern Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and as far south as Christchurch.  The carnivorous plant, which is also known as the “cruel vine”, traps monarch butterflies, moths and other insects,  and is poisonous to humans. “The options to control moth plants include spraying or removing them by hand, and collection of mature seed pods – which unfortunately can be quite labour intensive. . .” See more details here.

Cash injection to revive native plants: January 7: A Government funding initiative in South Canterbury  is poised to help restore heavily-farmed ancestral waterways, while enabling rūnanga’s young people to live and work in their native land. According to Stuff New Zealand, the latest round of Jobs for Nature funding will circulate $12.64 million, to be invested into six Canterbury-based projects, getting more than 70 people into nature-based careers. Among the recipients is the Te Rākau Kōhanga project, which will get $2.7m to set up a plant nursery at Temuka’s Arowhenua Marae, where 180,000 native plants will be grown over the next three years. Full details here

2021 News


Q4 News

Asian Seed Congress 2023 in Christchurch: December 14: The Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance (APSA) Asian Seed Congress is tentatively scheduled for November 2023 at the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, with up to 1,000 delegates, including 900 from abroad and one hundred from New Zealand. The Christchurch NZ Convention Bureau helped secure the event, along with Tourism New Zealand and the New Zealand Grain and Seed Association (NZGSTA), thereby affording local seed production companies the opportunity to attend, share expertise, and build on regional connections and experience. Christchurch is in the heart of New Zealand’s largest seed production area, where delegates can observe seed growing, processing and storage first-hand. Read full story here.

NGSTA launches Industry Facts: October 29: The New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association has developed an A4 fact sheet on the vital importance of the seed sector to NZ’s economy. Titled ‘Seeds of Success’ the flyer aims to ‘present some quick figures in a user-friendly/readable way. According to the flyer, “Every year we harvest enough pasture seed to renew more than 350,000 ha of New Zealand farmland, and enough forage crop seed to sow 396,000 ha.” See more facts and figures here.

PVR Quarterly Journal Updates: October 1: The latest quarterly edition of New Zealand’s Plant Variety Rights Journal has been circulated. This issue (No. 167 – July to September 2021) includes several important updates for New Zealand plant breeders, seed companies and researchers, including:

o   Closing dates for varieties in Central DUS Trials

o   Holiday closure dates for Plant Variety Rights Office

o   Review of Plant Variety Rights Act 1987

o   COVID-19 restrictions

o   Plant Variety Rights Technical Focus Group meeting

o   Annual meeting of technical working group for pasture species

o   Reminder to update details in IPONZ online system

To download, read the issue, click here.


Rain induced floods interrupt Auckland lockdown: August 21: Hundreds were evacuated from dozens of homes in West Auckland due to flooding on the night passing the 30th and 31st of August. Affected communities were Kumeu, Huapai, Ranui, Piha and Henderson Valley, with some 12 roads in the area closed to mitigate against flooding and landslides. It was reported that a total of 208.2 mm of rain fell in Kumeū over 24 hours to 31 August, 149% of the August monthly normal rainfall, prompting politicians to permit priority for evacuation over the stay-at-home orders that were in place at the time. See report here. Auckland was declared into a ‘Level 4’ lockdown from August 17 to September 21, and has since been declared to be in ‘Level 3’ until a new decision is announced after October 4

No need for agricultural services to register as essential: September 8: According to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) website, whose latest update at time of press was logged on September 8, 2021, “There is no requirement to register with MPI as an ‘essential business or service’.” Among the primary sector businesses that would be permitted to continue to operate and provide services with appropriate COVID-19 safety practices in place include “Primary industries (being food and beverage production for both domestic consumption or export, plus the relevant support services) . . . “ in addition to “support services and inputs that may be considered Alert Level 4 business and service include: livestock and primary produce transporters; veterinary service providers; feed or fodder transporters and  feed, supplement, and agri-chemical manufacturers, processers, suppliers, and stores.” See MPI web page for full details

Snap lockdown announced: Aug 17: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the closing of schools, offices, and all businesses except essential services after New Zealand recorded its first positive case of Covid-19 in 6 months. A 58-year-old man tested positive for the virus in Auckland, which will be locked down for a week, while the rest of the country is locked down for 3 days. Only 20% of New Zealand’s population has been fully vaccinated. Original story here 

Antarctic blast blizzard: August 9: Near-record levels of snow fell on the ski slopes of the South Island triggering avalanche warnings as snow was reported to fall at sea level in Wellington as an Antarctic blast swept over the country. The freezing winds caused power failures triggered due to unusually high demand as well as downed power lines causing outages in Wellington, Kapiti Coast, Palmerston North, Taupo, New Plymouth, Taranaki, Hamilton, Napier, Hastings, Auckland and Whangārei. The events call into question New Zealand's recently awarded status as the best country to survive a global collapse, as the recent extreme cold weather stresses the country's infrastructure. Original story here 

PepMV halts tomato export: July 27: An outbreak of Pepino mosaic virus (PepMV) that began at a greenhouse in Auckland has caused tomato exports to be blocked by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). PepMV can affect crop yield and limit growth. David Yard, the MPI response controller, stated PepMV had spread to four glasshouses and authorities were working to contain the outbreak by implementing biosecurity measures such as increased hygiene and sterilising equipment, particularly equipment that is used in transportation such as crates. Authorities are hopeful exports can resume before October. Original story here 

New Zealand PVR Bill under consultation: July 14: Following the introduction of a new Plant Variety Rights Bill to Parliament in May, the consultation period has now opened, a process that will conclude on 25 August 2021. Proposed regulations for the bill  “mostly address procedural issues relating to matters such as applications for, and examination of, proposed new varieties; time limits for paying fees, and providing information and propagating material; compulsory licences; and hearings.” The new Bill will replace the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 19 May 2021, modernizing the regime with provisions that ensure New Zealand fulfills its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi  as well as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). According to the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association NZGSTA, the Bill implements these provisions by:

• extending the term of protection for woody plants to 25 years (the minimum required by UPOV 91) while retaining the term of 20 years for other species:

• extending the rights to harvested material only when the rights holder has not had a reasonable opportunity to assert their rights in relation to the propagating material from which it is derived:

• exempting farm-saved seed (the seed that farmers save from one season’s crop to plant the next season’s crop) from coverage of a PVR (while providing that regulations may limit this exemption in the future):

• defining an EDV as a variety that does not exhibit any important (as opposed to cosmetic) features that differentiate it from the initial variety it was derived from. 

A consultation document concerning proposed regulations also seeks feedback on the proposed list of ‘non-indigenous species of significance’. The consultation document is available via Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 Review: Proposed Regulations

On June 29, The International Seed Federation, along with CIOPORA, Crop Life International, APSA (Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance), AFSTA (African Seed Trade Association) and NZGSTA (the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association)

submitted a letter to concerned New Zealand regulators to express concern on behalf of the international seed industry, specifically about proposed definition and narrow scope of EDVs. For specific inquiries or comments about the new bill, please contact the NZGSTA via their website. 

NZGSTA names Agronomist of the Year

Kerry Thomas (left) and Ed Luisetti, NZGSTA Grains and Pulses Chair

July 7: Agronomist of the Year Award for wheat industry announced Kerry Thomas of Luisetti Seeds was recognised as agronomist of the year in the United Wheat Growers Bayer Wheat Awards held in Christchurch on Wednesday 7 July. The award was open to all industry professionals involved in seed and grain crop production.The Agronomist of the Year Award, sponsored by the NZ Grain & Seed Trade Association, is designed to recognise an agronomist who has an endless knowledge of crop production and goes above and beyond to make sure the best possible crop is produced by growers said NZGSTA Grains & Pulses Chair Ed Luisetti. “We are just a few weeks on from drilling the autumn wheat crops which are starting to take off with growth. There is still a lot of time before the crops will mature in late summer and will be ready to harvest next year but agronomists will continue to work with growers to manage their crops to get the best possible production. “New Zealand arable growers can always access the best agronomic advice and knowledge in the industry. Our members are always looking to deliver the best outcomes for growers to ensure NZ remains the best world market,” says Mr Luisetti. The awards were judged by Richard Grigor a former wheat buyer for Champion Flour Milling and trader with ABB/Viterra Grain.

2021 NZ Grains and Pulses Forum: June 15: The NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association hosted its annual Grains and Pulses Forum held at the Lincoln Events Centre on 15 June. Nearly 100 merchants, suppliers, growers, grain end users and other industry professionals attended the event, which was developed and hosted by the NZGSTA.

Grains and Pulses chair, Ed Luisetti said he was pleased with the turn out as it was an important annual fixture bringing industry colleagues together to discuss and collaborate around key challenges and opportunities in the sector. Moreover, hosting the forum reinforces the importance of the sector to New Zealand, he said. 

“Our cereals industry has produced record wheat yields, with a mid-Canterbury grower harvesting a paddock that averaged an incredible 17.4 tonnes a hectare of wheat. Most NZ irrigated wheat averages around 12t/ha.

"Underpinning the industry is the top class breeding of new and improved cultivars to help growers improve their productivity and profitability.

The forum brought together eight expert speakers.

Nick Tuffley – from the ASB bank opened the forum with an outlook on the NZ agri market.

The TwoRawSisters Margo and Rosa Flanagan gave a humorous talk on plant based foods trends.

Rachel Baker a Kellogg Rural Leader and ag consultant address was on NZ grain versus palm kernel.

Khan Sayer from Viterra NZ talked about imported feed trends and opportunities for the NZ feed grain industry.

Heinz Watties crop supply agronomist Simon McCormick talked about pea market trends.

Other speakers included Colin Hurst from Federated Farmers and Brian Leadley representing United Wheat Growers who provided perspectives and insights from a growers’ point of view.

The forum concluded with a BBQ lunch kindly sponsored by Mainfreight Air & Ocean and Owens Transport which gave attendees opportunity to network and refresh contacts with their peers and colleagues.

Luisetti said the cereals and pulses sector remains a vital component of the arable industry. Figures from StatsNZ shows New Zealand growers produced 994,000 tonnes of wheat, barley, oats and maize grain from 112,000 hectares in the 2020 harvest.


Apple crop outlook smudged by cooler, stormy summer: May 20: Hopes for a record apple harvest have been slashed by the prevalence of cooler temperatures and hailstorms this summer. Citing a May 12 report from the USDA, NZ apple production in 2020-2021 season is estimated to have dropped by 8% from the previous year’s 543,000 metric tons. Moreover, the USDA also notes “severe labor shortages during harvest.” linked to Covid-19. Full details here

Plant Variety Rights Bill to grow NZ agriculture: 14 May 202: A new Plant Variety Rights Bill is under consideration by the New Zealand Parliament. According to industry sources, the new Bill was submitted earlier this month, and would update the current 34-year-old legislation, which was enacted in 1987. “Plant breeders are pleased to see the Plant Variety Rights Bill introduced into Parliament this week,” opens a press release from the Plant Breeding & Research Association, whose GM, Thomas Chin, is also GM for the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA). “The reform bill is required under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that obliges the Government to align our plant laws with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) 91 convention. UPOV 91 is in operation with our key trading partners and signatory countries such as Australia, Canada, Mexico and Japan. 

“Overall, the Bill aims to better safeguard intellectual property rights pertaining to the breeding of new plant varieties.

Two priority areas for plant breeders include confirming a seed royalty fee for farm saved seed and beefed up sanctions that can deter infringers.

On the former, the bill paves the way for acknowledging the longstanding practice of farmers saving seed for their own use. In return and where the saved seed is a protected variety plant breeders will be seeking a fair and equitable remuneration though the payment of a royalty fee.

“Having the ability to collect a royalty fee would help new investment into the development and release of new and improved crop varieties that are less susceptible to various pests, resistant to disease, more productive and profitable for farmers” said says David Green, President of the Plant Breeding and Research Association.

Plant breeders say they look forward to engaging with farmer groups to work through transition arrangements and refining the royalties collection mechanism.

A strengthened penalty regime in respect of infringements of breeders’ rights is also being sought by the industry. Breaches of the industry’s intellectual property rights threatens innovation and the livelihoods of breeders and farmers alike.

“We support the bill as it will be the first comprehensive review of the PVR Act since the 1980s and demonstrate to the world that NZ has robust plant protection laws.

“When passed the new legislation should build breeders confidence and encourage the introduction of more improved varieties for the benefit of farmers and make New Zealand more competitive” says Mr Green.

For further information, please contact Cell: 021 679989. This report was also carried by Scoop NZ here.

Hi-tech seed processing plant opened: May 12: The culmination of three years of work, Luisetti Seeds’ cutting-edge seed-dressing plant in Ashburton was officially opened by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Luisetti Seeds production director Vincent Luisetti, and Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown with many of those who worked on getting the plant installed also in attendance. The plant is the first of its kind in New Zealand and 4,500 tonnes of additional crops has been grown to make use of the new plant. "It’s truly, truly impressive," remarked Mr O’Connor after witnessing the plant in action. Luisetti Seeds sees the investment as giving the company an edge in a highly competitive industry. The plant, produced by Petkus, includes a seed-cleaning, treating and packing production line that can process 3.5 tonnes of ryegrass and over 20 tonnes of grain per hour. This is compared to around 1 tonne per hour using existing machinery, although the plant is set to run at 10 tonnes per hour to allow staff to keep up. The machinery is fully automated and online, and can even be operated remotely by Petkus engineers in Germany. Original story here 

NZ contributes $200k for flood-affected Timor-Leste: May 6: The government of New Zealand has made a US$200,000 contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which will be used towards humanitarian assistance efforts in Timor-Leste, which has been impacted by COVID-19 and floods induced by torrential rains brought by Cyclone Seroja, which have compromised accessibility to nutritious food. “With thousands of acres of agricultural land still submerged by floods, a poor harvest of maize and other crops is inevitable. The money will be use to procure high energy biscuits, support nutrition screening for families in evacuation centres, and storing and distributing emergency nutrition supplies. See news here.

Soil, climate study pitches horticulture crops: May 4: A study on alternative land uses, commissioned by The Tararua District Council and conducted by AgFirst, pitched blueberries, hazelnuts, cider apples and feijoas as suitable for growing successfully in the district, citing compatible soil quality, climate and economics. See full story here. 

Smith Seeds appoints new GM, prepares for future growth
New Zealand’s Smith Seeds has promoted Dayle Jemmett as the company’s new General Manager. Dayle, who has been with the company for 18 years, has advanced through progressively with increased responsibility in all aspects of the business: He will continue in his role as Manager for Smith Seeds’ subsidiary company, Premium Peas Ltd, oversee seed production for both companies as well as account manager for the firm’s European customers. Company directors Ross and Grant Smith see the appointment as “a significant step in the company’s succession strategy to ensure a consistently strong business into the future.” Ross continues to serve as the Board Director, while Grant will continue to steer the company as Managing Director, and as the main contact for Asian customers. To help lighten the load for what is looking to be a busy Autumn 2021 season, the company has also welcomed three new staff – Steve Chapman, Brad Quinlan and Tania Smith – who bring a “considerable depth of knowledge and experience within the agricultural industry”. The company has also released conceptual designs for its new office and warehouse in the Ashburton Business Estate, with construction planned to commence in the near future.  For more information and other news from Smith Seeds, see their recent newsletter

Horticulture sector labor shortage, losses loom: April 21: Horticulture farm and orchard operators are warning that the industry may suffe significant losses due to the shortage of labor.  Thus, sector representatives have called on the Government and Immigration Minister to allow more Pacific Island workers into the country in the year ahead, so as to avoid hitting a crisis point. “The apple industry alone is already predicting losses upwards of $600 million, with the national crop forecasts down 14% on 2020.” Growers have predicted potential direct losses of up to NZ$1.1 billion and a labour deficit of 11,000 workers in March 2021. See original story here

New Zealand homegrown milling wheat shake-up: 12 April: New Zealand’s home-grown milling wheat breeding and production industry has expressed concern about anticipated impacts of “significant adjustments to the trading dynamics”. As reported in length by Farmers Weekly, South Island wheat growers have been informed that milling contracts for the 2022 season would not be facilitated through a direct-purchase brokerage arrangement, as previously, but through “a large scale Australian-based, integrated commodity merchandising and supply management company”. Under the conventional contracting process,  farmers work closely with grain and seed companies who breed the seed, sell to growers and market the grain, and “need these seed companies in their integrated systems for crops other than milling wheat…”  The South Island reportedly is producing 110,000 tonnes of milling wheat. NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) general manager Thomas Chin has advocated for NZ-grown grain, while the industry has warned that “If seed companies are discontinued in the contracting of milling wheat between farmer and mill, the entire NZ milling wheat breeding effort is at great risk and the financial implications may cause these breeding programmes to be shut down entirely.” Discussion amongst stakeholders is ongoing. More details in the original article here

NZGSTA March/April newsletter: A number of important New Zealand seed industry updates are covered in the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association’s latest newsletter, including: on a bill to reform the Plant Variety Rights Act, which has been finalised, and expected to be introduced to Parliament by the end of April or early May; the future of some select chemicals, including neonicotinoid, is being mulled in an investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment; The NZGSTA’s special general meeting on 30 March, in which members voted and agreed for the association to contribute NZ$100,000 to the New Zealand Seed Authority, “towards the delivery of the new Seed Certification Information System (SCIS) databas”; In February, the Ministry of Primary Industries lifting the suspension of imports of Capsicum (capsicum) and Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) seeds for sowing of Israel-origin; and the NZGSTA welcoming to the Council a new co-opted general councillor, Stephen Bennett from PGWS. Read details on these and more from NZGSTA here.


NZ seed exports up 4.6% in 2020: The value of New Zealand seed exports increased by 4.6% in 2020 compared to a year earlier, to record $250m in receipts according to the NZ Grain & Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA). Latest data issued by StatsNZ, shows seed export values have grown 44% from $173m five years ago. Whilst NZ exports more than 30 different seed types internationally pasture seed and vegetable seed were the key export categories. Read the full story by NZGSTA here

Record for ryegrass proprietary pasture seed: According to Calendar year 2020 sales figures from the Plant Breeding and Research Association (PBRA), over 10,700 tonnes of branded proprietary pasture seed was sold to farmers, which is 21% more than 2015. This was the strongest sales year on record. Proprietary seed, which comes with built-in technological advances to increase performance, is increasingly recognised as the one of the best investment farmers can make in their land. Read full story by NZGSTA here.

NZGSTA gets new president: At a New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) Council meeting in December, 2020 Michael Hales (Barenbrug) was unanimously elected President of the Association. He takes on the role until the Association’s Annual General Meeting to be held in October 2021. The election was called following the resignation of the association’s previous president George Gerard. Evan Johnson will continue as Vice President and the filling of the vacant General Councilor role will be advised shortly. For full council list, see NZGSTA website here.

Seed Certification stats, PVP Amendment Bill and NZGSTA Conference 2021: A recent newsletter by the NZGSTA has shared stats showing that nearly 40,000 hectares of seed crops were had been entered into the country’s certification system in 2020/21; During the first Parliamentary session for the year the Association is expecting to see the Plant Variety Rights Amendment Bill to be debated in the House; The 2021 Annual Conference of the NZ Grain & Seed Trade Association is planned to be held at the InterContinental Hotel in Wellington, 20-21 October,  2021. Read news in detail from NZGSTA newsletter here.

ToBRFV detected in ‘pest free’ declared seeds: December 2020:
Biosecurity New Zealand was alerted by industry of the presence of Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) in seeds imported from Israel. The seeds were reportedly accompanied with a phytosanitary certificate with a declaration that they were free of ToBRFV based on testing offshore; however tests in New Zealand found otherwise. Biosecurity New Zealand reportedly destroyed all tomato plants that were grown in close proximity to the affected plants. Read more here on Hort Daily and Horticulture New Zealand

PGG Wrightson Seeds’ seed treatment line in Uruguay: December 2020:
New Zealand’s largest seed company will distribute the group's line of Pro Farm UBP Technology products in Uruguay. According to a report, “The UBP Seed Treatment is based on a proprietary process turning plant-based lignin into a supramolecular, nutrient complex that supports plant growth and improves plant health, resulting in improved yields and crop quality. The seed treatment has proven applications on soybeans, wheat, oats, sorghum, and forage crops, all of which are widely grown in Uruguay.” The move stems from a recently signed agreement that provides the New Zealand company with “exclusive crop dependent selling rights to MBI’s Pro Farm UBP seed treatment line for the next five years (2020-2025) in Uruguay.” Read more details here

2020 News


NOVEMBER 2020: A narrow, simple majority of New Zealander voters on November 6 voted not to legalise cannabis in a national referendum. According to media reports, including this one from The Guardian,The yes vote for legalising cannabis finished with 48.4% of the vote, trailing the no vote on 50.7%” The total number of votes in the referendum was reported to be 2.9 million. According to the above report “voters were asked to decide whether they wanted to pass a bill that would legalise cannabis and regulate how it is used and sold …” including for the producing and selling of fresh and dried cannabis, “including plants and seeds – for people over 20 years old.” For more information about the New Zealand cannabis industry, see this report.

Seed banking as extinction insurance in face of myrtle rust incursion: AUGUST 2020:
Scientists in New Zealand are working passionately to conserve trees and shrubs potentially facing extinction in the coming decades should the spread of an exotic fungus continue.. According to this article, the scientists had received warnings from colleagues in Australia to “seed bank early,” Hence the scientists have prioritized getting the threatened species into seed banks. Myrtle rust was detected in Australia in 2010 and in New Zealand in 2017. It is unclear which species will survive the myrtle rust incursion, or for how long. More details here.

Judge dismisses substandard fodder seed quality, failed crop case: AUG 2020:
A judge has dismissed the case of a dairy farming company who took its seed supplier to court over a failed crop, “saying there was no evidence the seed company acted in any way intended to mislead or deceive.” The dairy farming company, which operates a dairy farm near Temuka, South Canterbury, had reportedly opened an account with the supplier of agricultural products in January 2018, and purchased 152 bags of fodder beet seed in November, 2019. However, when yields failed to deliver to expectations, the company filed the case. Full details here

What happen to an ecosystem that loses beneficial ‘seed predators’?: AUGUST 2020:
A new study led by a post-doctoral researcher at Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research is highlighting the significance of beneficial “seed predators” in an ecosystem.  In the words of the lead research, "It’s easy to understand why we should be worried when pollinators or seed dispersers have gone extinct, but ecologists tend to be less concerned about losing so-called ‘negative’ species interactions such as seed predation. These are important functions in island ecosystems too, yet we know very little about them". More details here