The 2023 Kiwifruit Innovation Award has been won by Dr Annette Richardson for her work in exploring budbreak - a crucial stage in the growth cycle of kiwifruit.
Dr Richardson, a Plant & Food Research scientist, is an expert in plant physiology and has explored kiwifruit growing techniques to support future production throughout her almost 40-year career. Her work around budbreak has led to advancements that have helped increase yields and contributed to the overall quality of kiwifruit crops. She has extensively researched budbreak in kiwifruit to support grower returns with increased yields of fruit with reduced variability. One of Dr Richardson’s first pieces of work was her involvement in the introduction of Hi-Cane - a budbreak enhancer applied once to vines in the dormant winter period - to the kiwifruit industry back in 1988. She continues to lead in this field as a vital part of the team researching alternative ways to support budbreak in kiwifruit and learning more about the fundamental science behind this process.
Zespri Chairman and award judge Bruce Cameron says Dr Richardson has been instrumental in the continued growth and success of the kiwifruit industry.
“Dr Richardson’s knowledge of plants and how they grow under varying conditions has helped the industry remain resilient while also helping pave the way for a more sustainable future.
“She has the incredible ability to take complex science and convey it to the industry in a way which people can understand and use.
“Her work in researching kiwifruit budbreak and vines, in new cultivar development and in supporting the industry’s ongoing use of Hi-Cane through modifying it for new gold and red varieties, as well as its alternatives - has helped shape the way kiwifruit is grown and ensured the industry can adapt to meet growing demand for kiwifruit around the world and return more value back to growers and our communities.”
NZKGI Chair and award judge Mark Mayston says, “Dr Richardson’s work with Hi-Cane has been instrumental to the success of the kiwifruit industry today. Hi-Cane, used once per year on kiwifruit orchards, is a critical chemical for the success of the kiwifruit industry. It promotes uniform bud break of flowers ultimately maximising the production of high-quality kiwifruit.
“The certainty that budbreak enhancers create allows for the prosperity of our industry, the returns of which, flow back into New Zealand’s communities.
“I acknowledge and congratulate Dr Richardson for her contribution to the science in this very important area.”
Fellow judge Kristy McDonald KC, Chair of kiwifruit industry regulator Kiwifruit New Zealand, says, “Research that is targeted, sustained and innovative is vital to the continuing success of New Zealand kiwifruit in a world that is facing environmental challenges and ever increasing costs. Dr Richardson’s work focuses both on the science and the development of real-world solutions that will benefit growers and the industry. I congratulate Dr Richardson on her outstanding contribution over many years.”
Annette Richardson says, “This is an exciting industry to be a part of – it’s really rewarding to see all that industry has achieved over a few decades and I know there’s an exciting future ahead. Collaboration is a key part of the sector’s success and Plant & Food Research is fortunate to be working alongside great partners such as Zespri, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, Kiwifruit Vine Health and the Kiwifruit Breeding Centre as well as kiwifruit growers.”
Established in 2015 by former Chairman of Kiwifruit New Zealand, Sir Brian Elwood, the Kiwifruit Innovation Award recognises people who have solved a problem or created value for the kiwifruit industry through great innovation.