Fewer tyre kickers than previously and people there to do real business was one of the observations made at Asia Fruit Logistica, says Horticulture NZ acting chief executive Richard Palmer.
Dillon, of Hoddys Fruit Co, was named at an event in Richmond on Friday night following a day-long competition where contestants demonstrated their knowledge and skills in a series of practical and theoretical challenges key to running a successful orchard business.
Dillon, 22, was the youngest participant in this year's competition,.
In the five years he has been at Hoddys he has been closely involved in harvest, where he drives a tractor in a picking crew, and does plenty of pruning, planting and irrigation checking. Dillon never intended to stay in horticulture, but a seasonal job has turned into a career that he thoroughly enjoys.
"It was definitely daunting, but a great experience," says Dillon. "I'm looking forward to nationals, and am hopeful about bringing the title to Nelson."
Jordon Mister, of Tyrella Orchards, was the first runner up. Vanita WiJohn from Birdhurst Orchards came in third.
Dillon's prize includes a professional development tour to Hawke's Bay to learn about their horticulture industry, a trip to the Horticulture Conference in Christchurch later this month, a cash prize of $1,500, and an all-expenses paid trip to compete for the national 2018 Young Grower of the Year title in Napier this August.