Orchard Farmer/Manager Kaipāmu Uru Hua Rākau/Kaiwhakahaere Uru Hua Rākau

Orchard farmers/managers plan and manage fruit and nut production in orchards.

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Orchard farmers/managers may do some or all of the following:

  • decide what fruit or nuts to grow 
  • cultivate land and plan orchards
  • plant trees or shrubs, and monitor growth
  • ensure trees and shrubs are watered, fertilised and pruned, and are healthy
  • manage irrigation and frost protection
  • organise the harvesting, grading and packing of fruit or nuts, and arrange for sale and transport
  • buy seed, trees, fertiliser, machinery and other orchard materials
  • check, clean and maintain orchard equipment
  • train, organise and supervise orchard workers and contractors
  • ensure that food safety, health and safety, and other regulations are complied with
  • keep production and financial records.

Physical Requirements

Orchard farmers/managers need to be reasonably fit and healthy.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for orchard farmers/managers includes:

  • horticulture or agriculture work
  • using specialist equipment or driving heavy vehicles
  • mechanical work
  • business management
  • working with harvesting contractors.

Personal Qualities

Orchard farmers/managers need to be:

  • good administrators, with business planning skills
  • good communicators and managers
  • able to work well in a team and under pressure.


Orchard farmers/managers need to have knowledge of:

  • how to grow and harvest various types of fruit or nut crops
  • orchard diseases, weeds and pests, and how to control them
  • climate and weather conditions, and how they affect orchard production
  • soil and orchard rotation, and cultivation and harvesting methods
  • food safety, market certification and quality requirements
  • health, safety and employment regulations
  • recruiting, training and managing staff.


Orchard farmers/managers:

  • usually work between eight and 10 hours a day, but during peak seasonal harvest and planting times may worker longer hours, including weekends
  • work outdoors or in packhouses and offices
  • work in all weather conditions, with machinery and chemicals that can be hazardous
  • may have to travel locally between orchards and to markets or suppliers.

Subject Recommendations

A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include accounting, agricultural and horticultural science, business studies, maths, biology and chemistry.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills. 

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Orchard Farmer/Managers can earn around $55K-$110K per year.

Pay for orchard farmers/managers varies depending on:

  • orchard size
  • orchard profitability, which may vary from season to season
  • prices received for the fruit or nuts.

Orchard farmers/managers with up to five years' experience usually earn between $55,000 and $110,000 a year.

Orchard farmers/managers who work for large organisations can earn between $120,000 and $180,000.

Sources: Horticulture NZ; Trade Me Jobs; and Indeed, 2019.

Orchard farmers/managers may progress into supervisory or management roles, or buy their own orchards. They may also become horticultural consultants. 

Orchard farmers/managers may specialise in growing a specific type of fruit or nut or a mixture of different fruits and nuts.

Berry growers
Berry growers grow and sell kiwifruit, avocados, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants and boysenberries.
Citrus fruit growers
Citrus fruit growers grow and sell feijoas, grapefruits, limes, lemons, mandarins and oranges.
Drupe, stonefruit and summerfruit growers
Drupe, stonefruit and summerfruit growers grow and sell apricots, cherries, olives, peaches, plums and nectarines.
Nut growers
Nut growers grow and sell chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and other types of nuts.
Pipfruit growers
Pipfruit growers grow and sell apples and pears.

Years Of Training

There are no specific entry requirements to become an orchard farmer/manager as you gain skills on the job.

However, a New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Fruit Production) (Level 4) or a diploma or science degree in horticulture may be useful.

You can also train on the job through Primary ITO's Let's Grow horticulture apprenticeship.

A driver's licence is essential and a licence with a forklift endorsement is useful.

Extra requirements for chemical spraying

If your job requires agrichemical spraying you need a certificate from approved providers such as Growsafe.  

Orchard Farmer/Manager