Dr Jeremy Burdon has been awarded a Fellowship of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science in recognition of his sustained and outstanding contributions to the post-harvest science supporting New Zealand fresh fruit industries, particularly the kiwifruit and avocado industries. He has consistently demonstrated outstanding skills in innovative thinking and scientific excellence in partnering science with business, forming enduring relationships with industry and academic colleagues.
A senior scientist at Plant & Food Research, Jeremy is especially noted for the science underpinning the successful commercialisation of new kiwifruit and kiwiberry cultivars, and provides practical advice to packhouse and coolstore operators.
He began his career in research undertaking a PhD in the United Kingdom, investigating the abscission of raspberries and blackberries and the potential for machine harvesting of those fruit, then worked with the UK’s overseas development science unit on food-loss prevention and export promotion in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, mostly developing and delivering training programmes and in quality assurance.
After working for a year at the Agricultural Research Organisation’s Volcani Centre in Israel (building his knowledge of tropical and sub-tropical fruit crops) and back in the UK at the Natural Resources Institute (engaged in training and quality assurance work), he joined the Postharvest Group at HortResearch, which is now part of Plant & Food Research.
Focusing largely on kiwifruit, early research success came with the development of the KiwiStart early season programme for ‘Hayward’ kiwifruit and the commercialisation of ‘Hort16A’ (Zespri® Gold Kiwifruit).
In 2002 he received a HortResearch Outstanding Achievement Award “For contributing to the research required over the past five years to establish ‘Hort16A’ as a commercial variety”. This work continued with Jeremy helping to commercialise ‘Hort16A’ in Italy.
Similar work on the commercialisation of Zespri® SunGold Kiwifruit, following the loss of ‘Hort16A’ to the bacterial disease Psa, became even more important commercially. He carefully examines underlying concepts and develops biologically based solutions, an approach that has resulted recently in a critical re-evaluation of the long-established 6.2% soluble solids content harvest index for kiwifruit.
Jeremy has provided essential support, too, to the New Zealand avocado industry, applying expertise which started with his avocado research in Israel.
His CV includes a comprehensive list of publications and reports for commercial clients and his grasp of the association between science, horticultural practice and the commercial supply chain has been integral to his success as a working scientist over 30 years. He is internationally sought as a speaker and consultant and by editors of books – his recently completed review of the commercial implications of kiwifruit maturity has been accepted for publication in the prestigious Horticultural Reviews.
Jeremy has proved himself as a horticultural scientist at the interface with industry and he has consistently demonstrated outstanding skills in innovative thinking and scientific excellence in strongly partnering science with business. He forms enduring relationships with the industry and academic personnel with whom he works and can be considered as a leading postharvest scientist, both nationally and internationally.