Storing and Curing of Kumara

Kumara only has 1 harvest annually, so storage becomes a crucial part of the journey onto the supermarket shelves. Bad storage can lead to the product losing weight, shrivelling and bringing low returns back to the grower with a low quality product for New Zealanders.

Kumara Storage has long been a practice, dating right back to when early Maori in New Zealand, when kumara was even then a key part of their diet! Pictured are 3 kumara storage pits that were in use in the 1930s. According to history, pits were dug into the side of earth banks with wooden doorways and reinforcing added. This also helped give protection against pests and thieves.

The process of ‘curing’ requires careful management and a knowledge of the crop as it comes in from the field. Each block has to be treated differently and careful storage to keep the sheds organised as we progress through the year.

As the bins come in from the field, our Storage Manager will unload into temperature controlled sheds to start the process of ‘curing’.

Curing is a process where the produce is held in specific climate conditions for a short direction, then moved to a very different storage condition.

Kumara’s sweet spot for curing is high humidity for the first few days.

At our harvest, our motto is ‘treat them like eggs’. Vastly differently to the average potato, kumara are a very delicate crop to harvest so they take careful handling.

As the kumara goes through the process of curing, this helps form a layer of ‘suberin’ – a waxy substance covering the tuber. This toughens the kumara skin making them easier to pack and ultimately a better quality product that lasts longer on the supermarket shelf.

Curing also converts some of the starch in this high-starch vegetable, to natural sugars,  by triggering the sugar-producing enzymes in the kumara. This gives them a better taste overall.

Maori History Source: https://teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/40255/kumara-storage-pits-1930

melons Uncategorized

Yellow Watermelon

Introducing: Yellow Watermelons

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and that doesn’t ring more true than when it comes to the yellow watermelon!

This yellow flesh variety looks identical to its red fleshed counterpart, with a dark green stripy rind, so it takes special care and attention to detail to keep this crop variety separate in both picking and packing.

Apart from the obvious difference in colour of the skin, this variety can be used just as you would with the red watermelon. Slightly firmer in flesh and sweeter in taste, this is a super juicy variety…you don’t want to miss out on trying it this summer!

Surprisingly, as legend would have it, yellow watermelon cultivation came before red watermelons. Believes to have been grown 5000 years ago in Africa, yellow watermelons went through generations of selective cross-breeding for texture, sweetness and colour.

And what’s makes them yellow? Traditional watermelons get there pinky-red flesh from lycopene which is the same antioxidant that is found in tomatoes or grapefruit. Yellow watermelons don’t contain lycopene so they never do turn red as they ripen.  

Interested in hearing more? Contact us to find out more.

Fresh melons Uncategorized

Seedless Watermelons

Say goodbye to seeds…introducing our Seed-less watermelons!

Skip the pips and try our new variety of watermelon which has small white pips, nearly invisible when eaten…

And no, these small white seeds are not underdeveloped seeds that will grow in your stomach.

Like all fruit, seed-less watermelon cannot reproduce without the need for some seeds but we are talking the large mature black seeds.

So how are Seedless melons grown? Chromosomes are the building blocks that give characteristics, or traits, to living things including plants and watermelons. According to Watermelon Org, breeders discovered that crossing a diploid plant (bearing the standard two sets of chromosomes) with a tetraploid plant (having four sets of chromosomes) results in a fruit that produces a triploid seed. (Yes, it has three sets of chromosomes.) This triploid seed is the seed that produces seedless watermelons.

In other words, a seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seeds inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. And to be clear on the subject, this is not genetic modification. Cross-breeding is two parents and their offspring.

Its interesting to note that seedless watermelon still need to be pollinated by their seeded parent, so often this means growers will plant a mix of seeded and seedless melons in one paddock.

This variety of Watermelon has taken off in the United States and is now a preferred variety by both stores and customers.

New to the New Zealand market, these are becoming more recognized as consumers are exposed to them. Sweeter and firmer in flesh, these rate among the top tasting varieties amongst our team!

Interested in hearing more? Contact one of our team on sales@fieldco.co.nz to find out more.

Source: Watermelon Org, Florida



This month we’re replacing our redbands with our runners! Put a spring in your step this month by joining our Steptember challenge!

The goal is 8,000 steps each day for the 30 days of September. Whether the reason for joining is for health, losing weight or to join in the fun…our team are stepping it out!

We are adding a bit of healthy competition to this challenge with each of our teams combining their steps. Vote for the team of your choice that are taking part in this challenge:

Production | Planting Powerhouse

Packhouse | The Race Pack

Process | Logan St Legends

Office | Armchair Army

Far North | The Thompson Troopers

Want to join us in this challenge? Ways to get your steps up:

Get out in the sun and take a walk in your smoko break, park your car a little further away in the parking lot, walk to the shops or supermarket, take a hike on the weekend – the options are endless!


Introducing….Humble Heroes

These kumara have been out battling the elements and might look a little worse for wear.
But you can be sure they still taste just as good inside!
Available in both Red and Orange kumara prepacks, these 900g pack sizes are perfect for your customers.

With some of our kumara looking a little battered after some extreme weather conditions, we launched our Humble Heroes range – little heroes that have come through it all looking a little scraped, but just as good inside!


Affects of Cyclone Gabrielle

They say a week is a long time in politics, I was thinking of that statement as I watched our fields get inundated with the waters of Cyclone Gabrielle a week or so back. How much things can change in a single week when you are a grower too! The amount of water that flowed through some areas where we had never seen it flow before, was mind boggling.

However, we feel very lucky compared to Hawkes Bay and East Coast. The floods around Dargaville and Ruawai didn’t carry the volume of silt or slash and there was no loss of life here. We feel for the people in those regions, especially those who have lost loved ones, and we applaud the amazing work of the response teams.

There would not be one kumara grower in our region that didn’t see his or her hard labour swamped by the floodwaters, and we were all left feeling how long will it be until our industry recovers? One particular issue will be finding good seed kumara for next years crop. Almost 100% of growers are yet to start harvest and would have initially intended to begin harvesting within the next two weeks. The situation now is still evolving but it appears some growers have lost their entire 2023 crop and almost all others will be affected badly by rot.

2023 will be a challenging year for kumara supply and our volumes will be massively down but Fieldco are thankful to have a spread of plantings at various stages and we will be working hard to keep finding solutions for our customers in both fresh and frozen.


Delivering Aid to Ukraine

A massive THANK YOU to all our customers who bought from us over the month of August. Every little bit helped us to reach our target of $10,000!

With their help we raised a total of $10,008.50 for the oppressed people of Ukraine. We were determined to hit our target so we rallied to the cause and donated $1445 ourselves.

We have all watched in horror as so many innocent people have had their whole livelihoods ripped away and their families torn apart. The stories of defenseless civilians killed while waiting in line for food, of ordinary people like you and me denied what we regard as normal necessities such as food, hygiene, water and electricity. The escaping mother who walked for 24hrs in sub-zero temperatures carrying her twin babies. These are people who are isolated from the world due to no internet, often not even knowing the whereabouts or welfare of their own loved ones. Ordinary people, forced to endure extraordinary hardship through none of their own making.   

In response to this crisis unfolding in Ukraine, RRT launched Operation 322 to deliver emergency food and personal care supplies to those displaced.

With essential food and personal care products in high demand, RRT is loading trucks with Food Boxes filled with non-perishable food items, Care Kits equipped with personal care products, Baby Care Kits containing formula and nappies, bottled water and blankets.

At Fieldco we really care about people. That is what has moved us to support the people of Ukraine in this special way, via RRT.  You can help us support them too when you purchase Fieldco fresh kumara in August or by donating directly through the link below.

Many thanks, together we know we can help ease someone’s pain in a very small way.

OUR GOAL: $10,000

So how did this work? 

For Fieldco’s Finest kumara grades sold, we donated 10c p/kg towards the Operation 322.

Customers were able to access our Fresh Kumara ordering sheet to work out how many dollars they were giving back to families in need in Ukraine.

Would you like to give extra donation to this worthy cause? Click on the link below to view more on our GiveaLittle page.


Reflections on the Rising Production Costs

We’d like to extend a big thankyou and shout out to all the efforts going in with the produce teams across the country. What an interesting game we get to play – every day is a fresh opportunity, a chance to do something different, and a brand new challenge.  Dynamic, we call it  – yesterdays fresh produce could be tomorrows’ waste and the difference between good and bad, happy and sad, or profit and loss.

We have been reflecting on our 46 years of growing produce here at Fieldco and the many changes experienced – never more so than in the last 3 years. On top of ever increasing environmental and social responsibilities, there are a few costs in particular that directly affect the produce industry globally and would be keeping food producers all over the country, awake at night.

I thought you may be interested in just a few of our findings:

  • Labour is up 35% in the last 5 years. (Remember our kumara are handpicked to preserve quality.)
  • Fuel has is up 154% in the last 18 months with no end in sight. Some larger tractors will consume $120hr in fuel alone – no electric options available here. (A fuel invoice we received end of June was 14% higher than the one we received 3 weeks prior ) – where is this heading? 
  • Fertiliser has increased by 56.52% in the last 12 months.
  • Freight per kg has increased 6.6% year on year.
  • new tractor priced recently at 40% higher than we had anticipated. 

Talking about high cost of food in the supermarkets, it is obvious we can’t lay all the blame at the retailers feet. Input costs everywhere are increasing incredibly fast and unfortunately that just means a higher price for us all to pay as consumers.  As costs rise, scarcity usually follows as producers look to more viable crop alternatives or simply go out of business altogether.

Kumara pricing recently has been quite a bumpy ride but the facts are, as with all Food & Beverage items, we will see increases to continue going forward. We are also very mindful of the true cost of sustainability. 

A very good point to remember and sometimes discuss with our friends, Almost everything we eat was grown by someone, somewhere on a farm.  

-Rick Simpkin | Director


Kumara for Older Adults

A hidden gem!

As we age, eating well takes on new significance. Requirements for many nutrients increases.

However, due to several changes that occur during our older years, older adults may find it more challenging to meet their nutrient needs than ever before. While appetite and energy requirements decrease, there can be also be a reduced ability to purchase and/or prepare foods independently in the home. Combined with age-associated changes to dentition (affecting the ability to chew and swallow), taste and smell, all these factors can all influence food intake and the ability for older adults to get all the nutrients they need. Therefore, it important to make every eating occasion count, by providing as much nourishment as possible.

Enter the mighty kumara!

Kumara Nutrition for Older Adults

This often-underrated vegetable has been a staple of the Kiwi diet, dating back to the 10th century when Māori first arrived in New Zealand. While we often only think of kumara’s carbohydrate content when it comes to nutrition, kumara provides a range of health promoting nutrients, which are important as we age:


Being one of the most carbohydrate rich vegetables, kumara is an excellent source of energy. Kumara has a lower Glycaemic Index (GI) than potatoes. This means the energy (in the form of glucose) from kumara is released more slowly – giving less of a sugar spike – compared to potatoes.


Kumara is a source of fibre. As we age, it’s important to eat a diet rich in fibre to help alleviate constipation and keep you regular. Including plenty of dietary fibre may also help to keep your heart healthy. When increasing fibre intake, also make sure to drink enough fluids throughout the day.


Watch out bananas, kumara are also a rich source of potassium. To help support the health of your heart, it is recommended you ensure you’re getting enough potassium, along with reducing your salt intake.  However, those with kidney disease can find too much potassium harmful and will need to be mindful of how much potassium they have in a day.

Vitamin A and C:

Kumara is a good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene. These powerful antioxidants can help to support our immune system. As we age, our immune systems don’t work as effectively as they once did. Therefore, having a diet rich in antioxidants, is just as important as ever to help keep older adults healthy and well. Vitamin A can also support our vision, which can decline as we age.

B Vitamins:

Our requirements for many B vitamins increase as we age. While B vitamins are often thought about for the roles they play in energy production, vitamin B deficiency has been linked to heart disease, cognitive dysfunction, and osteoporosis in older adults. The good news is that kumara is a source of B vitamins. Depending on the variety, this includes thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.


Each beautiful colour of kumara, provides us with a different array of phytonutrients. Anthocyanins are a group of phytonutrients which are found in the skin of red and purple kumara varieties. Kumara with orange and yellow skins and flesh, are rich in beta-carotene. These phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-flammatory activity which can help to keep us healthy by supporting our immune system and overall function of our body.

How can I include kumara in my residents’ meals?

To cut the hassle out of food prep, Kumara Portions and Diced Kumara are both convenient products, which make it easy to include the kumara into meals for your residents are aged care or retirement homes.

Use kumara as a replacement for potato in your favourite recipes. Some quick and easy ways to include kumara are:

  • Use kumara in mash in place of potato. Kumara mash can be included as a side or as the topping for Shepard’s or other pies.
  • Add kumara into casseroles, soups, and pies.
  • Baked/microwaved stuffed kumara in its jacket. Fill with baked beans or vegetable mince, topped with sour cream and cheese.

The Eating and Activity Guidelines recommend adults over the age of 70 aim to eat at least 5 serves of vegetables every day. Half a medium piece of kumara is equivalent to 1 serve of vegetables.

Frozen Uncategorized

Product Feature: Diced Kumara

Do you ever get to the end of preparing vegetables and look at the sheer amount of skins and waste you end up with?

A couple of reasons for you to consider choosing frozen prepared vegetables:

  • big time-saver. This is a bit of a hot topic at the moment, what with the current labour shortages in the hospitality industry. And that doesn’t go for just the hospitality industry, businesses in a lot of industries are struggling to find staff, and resorting to other means and efficiencies to try and keep up. At Fieldco, our Diced kumara goes through a quick blanching process. This is to lock in the flavour and colour before being frozen, but in doing so also cuts down your cooking time as well. Small kumara dice that you can quickly bulk up any winter soups or casseroles with an added nutrient boost.
  • It’s doing your part to reduce food waste. No extra scraps to deal with, we’re able to get rid of them effectively and responsibly through our process division. The fresh produce that is used to make our frozen product range is a non-conforming grade, or non-supermarket grade so it is usually produce that would otherwise be just a contribution to the millions of tons of food that is wasted each year. What does a ‘non-conforming’ product look like? Usually it is a lumpy or out of shape vegetable, sometimes small blemishes on the skin, but inside, it is a perfect vegetable. We portion and prepare the vegetables, ready for you to use. 

One thing  to look out for when you’re buying is Country of Origin. You want to look out for New Zealand Grown as any other foreign country products really are not kumara, it’s sweet potato! For our Red Kumara Dice, we mostly use the Owairaka kumara variety. Small backstory on this variety…as legend has it, it was brought out by the Maori when they came hundreds of years ago. This variety has evolved a bit over time – theirs were a smaller and lumpier shape but were a staple in their diets because kumara was a vegetable that stored really well. 

What’s the difference between Red and Orange Kumara Dice? 

Beauregard, our Orange kumara, is softer in texture compared to the Original Red Kumara and has a faster cooking time. Its soft texture means it is best suited to use for a mash or as a potato or pumpkin substitute in any dish. It is also the sweetest tasting of all the kumara varieties. Try a recipe such as this delicious Chicken Pie 

The Red Kumara variety is a great healthy substitute for the average potato. Today, the traditional Red is still the main commercial crop grown in the Kaipara because of its popularity. It has a deep red skin with a creamy white flesh and veined centre. Owairaka Red are a firm textured variety, making them an ideal salad or roasting kumara but also go great in winter soups or casseroles.