What makes Te Puna limes so sought after in the citrus market is the exceptional essence of their two attributes –their juice and zest.
The juice is perfect for many recipes. Whether preparing a refreshing Mojito or a marinade, flavouring a dessert or a dressing, spicing up a sauce or a salad… lime juice is an essential ingredient in any kitchen. Studies suggest that limes may also have many health benefits.
The zest is at its finest when green, whilst the spicy tangy juice is present all through the season, even when green. The zest is perfect for flavour enriching garnishes or adding to recipes that benefit from its unique taste and tang.
Exciting new recipes are constantly appearing promoting limes for the wonderful flavour they give, especially with seafood dishes and exotic cocktails.
Our trees start flowering early in the spring, ready to be pollinated by bees.
As the white petals start to fall in September, the trees are closely monitored for a few minor pests which are controlled with a simple spray of natural Neem Oil. We also add a seaweed foliar feeder for tree health, and, before the new season's fruit is set, a copper spray to regulate any possible fungal problems.
There are two properties on which we grow 750 lime trees, ranging from two to ten years old. The limes are the large ‘Persian’ species of mainly the South African Bearrs cultivar together with some Tahitians.
Throughout the season our limes are clip picked twice weekly by hand as they ripen and mature on the trees. They are then taken into the processing shed where they receive their first inspection whilst being graded into four divisions by size. The sizes range from 40mm through to 65mm, calculated by diameter at their centre. Most will be in the 45mm to 55mm range, which is about the size of a lemon.
They are then packed to order, again individually inspected for a second time by the packers. Skin flaws or other growth faults are rejected from premium quality and sent for juicing.
After all regular orders have been processed for prompt despatch any surplus stock is stored in 20kg bins in the chiller awaiting further orders. Limes chill extremely well, remaining in prime condition – many chefs and home cooking enthusiasts know they can refrigerate their limes until they are ready for use, with no deterioration in quality.
The entire Bay of Plenty enjoys a temperate, maritime climate with warm humid summers and mild winters…but Te Puna especially is suited for growing full flavoured citrus. It has its very own "micro climate".
The area experiences around 2,200 hours of sunshine annually. The yearly average rainfall for our orchards is around 1,400mm.
We plan for long dry periods over summer; the orchards are irrigated in order to maintain the optimum level of moisture needed to support the rapidly growing fruit. Our reputation for blue skies and mild temperatures is due to a unique topography. The 125km coastline is sheltered by the Coromandel, Kaimai and Manukau ranges promising sheltered shores from the sea which are amongst the calmest and warmest anywhere in New Zealand.
Landcare NZ, which plots and identifies almost every inch of New Zealand soil, describes Te Puna soil as ‘Sandy Silt Loam, which is deep and well drained’.
Our soils and tree leaves are professionally tested annually for 20 different minerals, elements and ratios. The reports measure and compare them against the ideal for citrus orchards.
One of the reasons why Te Puna Limes may well be the best is that the CEC measurement has been consistently above the ideal range for the last five years. CEC - Cation Exchange Capacity - is the indicator for soils ability to make available essential nutrient elements needed for the trees to thrive and produce their best fruit.
The soil is regularly fertilised with naturally occurring minerals and trace elements to ensure that the balance of nutrients is maintained. We place particular emphasis on using agricultural lime so that the pH of the soil is kept up to the ideal range.
Chris Snelson and John Turner are the two partners of Te Puna Limes.
Chris, a surveyor from Pukekohe, lives locally in Te Puna. He has also run a successful palm tree business, and his pet passion is the restoration and flying the famous Catalina Amphibian aircraft.
John was an Angus stud cattle breeder from Kaipara, and was directly involved with establishing the AngusPure brand. John recognizes the importance of branding to differentiate a superior product. He ‘retired’ to the lovely Bay of Plenty in 2012.
Both are new to the business of horticulture, but share the challenge and delight to be learning about a new venture. They both also aspire to the philosophy that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. Which is why the quality of Te Puna Limes is paramount.