Areas of Production and Soil Types
Accurate statistics of outdoor vegetable production in New Zealand do not exist. In 1962 the Department of Agriculture estimated that there were 2,770 growers gardening 36,500 acres. Processing firms are estimated to have used produce from approximately half the total acreage to meet the mounting local and export demand for processed vegetable products (New Zealand Department of Agriculture Annual report of 31 March 1963). These are the main vegetable-growing districts: Auckland, 1,928 acres; Pukekohe, 5,734; Hastings, 8,802; Levin-Otaki, 975; Nelson, 2,900; Christchurch, 2,383; and Dunedin, 1,061.
Market gardening has tended to be concentrated on fertile, easily worked soils. Silt-loam soils have been preferred, but lighter and heavier soils and peat soils have also been used. In the North Island recent alluvial soils near Hastings, Gisborne, Palmerston North, Levin, and Otaki, and in the Hutt Valley and at Greytown are used. Brown granular clays or yellow-brown loams of volcanic origin are used near Auckland, Pukekohe, Hamilton, and Ohakune, and in the Bay of Plenty. Peaty soils are used at Opiki and in the Bay of Plenty. In the South Island recent alluvial soils are used near Nelson, Motueka, Blenheim, Christchurch, Willowbridge, Balclutha, and on the Taieri Plains. Peaty soil is used at Marshland, in Christchurch. Vegetables are grown commercially near Oamaru on a soil derived from basaltic ash.
Almost frost-free areas favoured for producers of early or “out of season” crops include Pukekohe Hill; the Gisborne district; Bay View, near Napier; the hill slopes near Nelson; the Port Hills, near Christchurch; and Otago Harbour district. Early potatoes are also grown at Outram, on the Taieri Plains. Northern districts have a longer production season than southern districts. Two (and often three) crops a year are grown on the same ground in the north; at Ohakune, and in the south, one or two crops a year is usual.