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Manuka provides a diverse range of opportunities

PF Olsen staff attended the Mystery Creek Fieldays in June at the Manuka Farming New Zealand (MFNZ) site. There was significant interest in planting Manuka, especially on marginal farmland with a view to increasing returns from such areas by producing high UMF Manuka honey. It was great to meet so many people interested in the opportunities that improved Manuka presents and discuss their planting options with them. We have been working closely with MFNZ and our time at Fieldays allowed us to learn a lot more from each other about our respective areas of expertise.

It is important to remember that if you are thinking of planting Manuka specifically for the production of monofloral high UMF Manuka honey, there some key factors that you need to consider:

  1. Planting area – a minimum of 20 ha is recommended for the profitable production of high UMF Manuka honey but the bigger the better, 40 ha will be viewed much more favourably than 20 ha by most apiarists;

  2. Other floral sources – bees have a preference for clover and a number of native species, so surrounding land cover should be considered;

  3. There must be a suitable hive site in close proximity to the Manuka plantation;

  4. Pollen sources – bees require both pollen and nectar to remain healthy. Manuka pollen is rarely collected by honey bees, they mainly collect the nectar. This means you need to consider pollen sources for the bees, particularly if you are wanting to keep hives on site year-round as Manuka only flowers for a short period.

Manuka is also a fantastic option for many other alternative purposes such as soil stabilisation, reversion to native bush, riparian enhancement, or small plantings for hobbyist beekeepers. For these uses, there is no minimum area required and manuka can be planted with a variety of other species to suit your needs. For assistance with species and planting options for any purpose, email Kimberly Evison at PF Olsen, or phone 07 921 1010.