Getting it Right for the Future

mcgrath2Featured in:

Publication date: 6/7/2017
Author:  Nichola Watson

Andy McGrath, McGrath Nurseries - "You are literally planning their livelihoods for many years ahead"

Andy McGrath - McGrath Nurseries

"You are literally planning their livelihoods for many years ahead"

These days it seems that there are so many new varieties of apple on the market, but how do you make sure you have the right apple, in the right market and at the right price? There is also still a big demand for the old well know varieties of apple, so how do you make sure you get good trees when planting a new orchard. It all starts with the getting the right breeder, good quality trees and the right partners along the chain.

McGrath Nurseries have built up a good reputation in the industry over the years. They have been producing of apple, pear, peach, nectarine, apricot, plum and cherry trees in Cambridge, New Zealand since 1980. As well as producing hundreds of fruit trees, McGrath also manages the intellectual property rights of many varieties.

The trees are grown on two sites which total 88 hectares, and sit at a latitude of 39 degrees where the climate is mild and risk of frost is minimal, the soils are excellent and there is an even rainfall pattern.

The demand for trees in New Zealand currently out stretches supply and trees are on order a couple of years in advance. "We try to match production to the market demand," explains Andy McGrath, owner of the company. "The current crop is all sold and so is next year's."

The company uses seasonal staff when it comes time for digging the trees, at peak season there are 40 workers and 13 permanent staff. The 2019 crop is just about to be planted, it is mostly sold so they won't take any more orders for it at the moment. Buying trees can be a big investment for growers so Andy tries to work out payment plans which suit everyone.

A good relationship with your customer is very important according to Andy, "We plan orchards for growers and help them decide which varieties to plant, this is a huge responsibility. You are literally planning their livelihoods for many years ahead. You need to be certain you provide good disease free trees, we regularly have independent experts come into our growing areas to tests, so we can ensure a great quality tree is going out." 

McGrath also owns the master licence for the new apple variety KORU®, which is currently taking off in the states. "There is a high degree of fatality with new varieties as we are all fighting for shelf space. You need to be quite consumer focussed when introducing a new variety. The standard of apples on the market has increased considerably in the last few years and you need to have great quality to be at the top of the apple game and a great marketing campaign."

Fruit tree nurserymen and IP managers

Business Central HORTICULTURE » McGrath Nurseries
By Sue Russell

AndyMcGrathAndy McGrath, founder and managing director of Cambridge based McGrath Nurseries. The company grows 40 per cent of New Zealand’s apple trees and
95% of cherry trees.

On the outskirts of Cambridge, McGrath Nurseries Ltd is home to literally hundreds of thousands of young fruit trees, each one the physical expression of what business founder Andy McGrath describes as his core business; creating and managing the technology bridge that links tree and fruit breeding science with consumers here and worldwide.


KORU® Brand Apple is Truly Worldwide



Article from The Orchardist

August 2015

“We are excited about this relationship between New Zealand growers and the USA and have further international programmes in the pipeline.”-Andy McGrath


Honeycrisp returns a whopping $US92

OrchardistAug2012Featured in The Orchardist
August 2012

Story By Rose Mannering 

Tight control over marketing channels has helped fledgling gin pipfruit export variety, Honeycrisp, give an in-market return of $US92 for New Zealand fruit this season. 

Honeycrisp New Zealand Ltd director Andy McGrath says he was thrilled with the first export fruit produced from plantings of the promising new apple. Grown at Waipopo Orchard, Timaru, owned by the Bennet brothers Danny and Peter, fruit was graded to a high standard to ensure a top return...

Read more

The chance variety

TheChanceVariety-cover-THUMBFeatured in The Orchardist
February 2011

'A New Beginning' written by Jackie Bedford; Photos by Jackie Bedford and Sandi Parsons

'The Chance Variety' written by Deirdre Mackay; Cover photo by Deirdre Mackay

Waikato nurseryman Andy McGrath continually searches the world for apple varieties that could produce a 'super premium' product. And now he has found one. Geoff Plunkett, who discovered this chance seedling, is featured on the cover photo.


Nurseryman credits island staff

Nurseryman credits island staff-300 - NICOLA BOYES
Last updated 14:03 25/01/2011

Waikato nurseryman Andy McGrath credits seasonal workers with nearly doubling his business in the past few years.

The owner of McGrath Nurseries near Cambridge is in the middle of grafting season, preparing stock to replenish orchards around New Zealand. It is literally hard graft and among his best workers are 10 women from Kiribati. The women are in the Waikato under the State Sector Partnership Development Fund, with the Department of Labour ...


Honeycrisp in New Zealand

MCGRATH-Orchardist July 2010-THUMBFeatured in The Orchardist
July 2010

Honeycrisp is the highest value apple in the world at the present time, and it looks as if the pemium is here to stay as an exciting prospect for South Island growers.


Andy McGrath snapshot of a full life

MCGRATH-Orchardist Nov 2009 - THUMB

Featured in The Orchardist
November 2009

Story By Alison Kay

When McGrath Nurseries Ltd releases a new plant variety it is always the result of intense scientific research - and infinite detailing... .Andy has obtained important summerfruit and pipfruit varieties for New Zealand, as well as rootstocks. "The devil is in the detail", says Waikato nurseryman Andy McGrath, a stickler for it in every facet of his business. Some might also say...


Andy McGraths close call

MCGRATH-Orchardist March 1996-THUMB

Featured in The Orchardist
March 1996

Story by Sandra Peek

McGrath Nurseries owner was involved in a serious agricultural accident that changed some of his priorities in life. "Tomorrow is always an assumption.  It puts an edge on life if you don't assume that - for me now every day is a bonus day.  To have had that experience, lived through it, and been able to learn from it - I have three winners right there."


McGrath Nurseries donates trees to area schools


McGrath Nurseries Ltd has teamed up with Avis Leeson, Garden Coordinator for Hamilton area schools, by providing 235 fruit trees over the past two years to plant small orchards at 54 primary and intermediate school grounds in the greater Waikato region. The students tend to the trees with the oversight of Avis and the project teaches the children how to care for plants and grow their own healthy foods. The students were excited when they picked the first fruit off of the trees this fall.


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