With the 2021 planting season complete, Murray’s Nurseries in Woodville reflects on a milestone year.

Patrick Murray and his team of four supplied a record 13 million baby pines this year. 15 million is planned for next year.

“We have been very lucky that the timing of the Covid lockdowns had little impact on us,” says Patrick.

Murray’s specialises in growing seedlings for New Zealand forestry companies with sustainable harvest programmes, like Forest Enterprises.

Contract growing for Forest Enterprises

“Murray’s grows high quality, uniform seedlings for us which have excellent survival and growth rates”, says Malte Coulmann, Southern North Island Regional Manager for Masterton-based forestry investment manager, Forest Enterprises.

Forest Enterprises chooses specific seed stock to produce trees with desirable characteristics like stiff, straight trunks and small branches. Seedlings are planted at about a year old and always during winter when there’s good rainfall and the trees are dormant.

“Murray’s is an innovative company and it’s a bonus they’re located close to home”, says Malte.

Cultivating quality and innovation

“I love developing new ways of growing pines more efficiently and sustainably than ever before”, says Patrick.

Murray’s grows seedlings in the field, direct from seed.

“The tech we use is unique to our nursery”, explains Patrick. “We’ve developed our own semi-automated RTK GPS with steer-controlled propagation equipment. It’s a highly efficient single-operator production system.”

Patrick says that, with current demand for planting and labour supply issues, industry change is afoot and he expects Murray’s to play a significant role.

“We’re putting together an R&D programme to develop a mechanical seedling harvest system that we hope will evolve into robotics. We’re also involved with Lincoln University in soil fungi trials, and in the field with hybrid clones trialling a new technique I believe will succeed growing from cuttings.”

Invest in a renewable resource

Forest Enterprises replants all forest land after harvest. The company planted nearly 1.2 million trees in Wairarapa in 2021. Forest Enterprises is the largest harvesting company in the region. Around a third of its timber from here goes to local sawmills like Kiwi Lumber, Davis Sawmill, Mitchpine and Pan Pac.

The forest environment improves with each crop as the soil becomes better conditioned for pine growth. Forest Enterprises’ second rotation forests, like it’s latest investment, the Pukekōwhai Forest are planted with the latest tree genetics. Having been harvested already, the roads and landings within the forest are in place and the harvest plan is proven. All these can have an impact on investment returns.

Photo: Patrick Murray of Murray’s Nurseries with radiata pine seedlings ready for planting in the forest.

Patrick Murray of Murrays Nurseries