How to control the default ‘work date from’ date

Dating Tips 

‘Work Date From’ is a common filter in ABCgrower, like in Worker Activity Search for example.  It’s set to 3 months by default, but you have control over this.

Fancy a change? 

Go to Settings > Control and change the setting in Work Date Default.  To set the default to the current date leave the field blank.   Just be aware that this setting applies to all users across all searches, so check with the bill payer first!

Hey Aussie citrus growers, listen up!

Wim van Niekerk, Managing Director Widem Farming, has been invited by Citrus Australia to speak about ABC at the upcoming forum.  Wim already uses ABCgrower’s top up function to ensure pieceworkers are paid minimum wage, and the productivity information grower provides has meant big savings on the bottom line.  We are very appreciative to Wim and his team!

BayBuzz Just do it

Fantastic Four

Published BayBuzz January/February 2022

Hawke’s Bay is home to around 18,000 businesses, a fair few of them owned or managed by women.  Meet four incredible women entrepreneurs all with a tale to tell, and hard-won, practical experience to share.

For inspiration, read on.

Just do it

Sharon Chapman, ABC Software

What market and customers do you serve?

We have software products for the horticulture industry, namely packhouses and orchards.  We have clients in NZ, Australia, US and Denmark.  In the last four years, we have transitioned from a custom software development company to a company with software products for sale.  We still do tailor-made software, but our primary focus is on our product sales.

What’s unique about it?

Our software goal is to make the hard, easy; the complex, simple; the time-consuming, fast.  Obviously, this is not always possible but when we get even halfway to that goal, it can be a game changer for our clients. And we back all that up with outstanding customer support!

What impact has the Covid-19 period had on your business?

Initially COVID had little to no impact.  We easily worked from home and all our clients were essential services (growers and packers) so work continued uninterrupted.  Now, 20 months on, not being able to travel to Australia is having an effect on new sales.  I also get the feeling of general jadedness in the markets that is slowing adoption of change and innovation.

If you could offer one piece of advice to a woman entrepreneur what would it be?

Nike say it best: ‘Just do it’.  It is understandable to be afraid to think of all the things that can go wrong.  But when you move from thinking about it, to talking about it, to action, all those doubts take a back seat because now you are in action. 

What you think about regarding your business, is what you will get.  So, bring joy, delight, adventure, ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, and it will be. 

And if it isn’t, don’t worry (it’s bad for your health), just adjust, segue, reinvent, U-turn.  Life is meant to be fun.  If it isn’t, change your thinking.

Who or what inspires you?

People who get out of their comfort zone, shake up the tree.  People who are passionate and inspire others with their words and actions (as opposed to brow-beat or intimidate).  Greta Thunberg and the innumerable climate warriors making a difference, like the HB-grown Project Do Less ( and Action Station Aotearoa.

How do you balance business and personal life?

I’m at the point where I am working around 40 hours a week.  That gives me time for family, friends, fitness and personal space.  Because I am single and no children at home, I have the privilege of really being at no one’s behest.  Personal time is mine and for me to use or squander.  I ditched TV long ago, which is a great giver-back of time.  I would like to work less hours but with our product development we are really a start-up company (which cracks me up) and it needs all the nurturing and attention any toddler would require.  Personal and work life kind of blend.  I’ve got it pretty sweet.  And I’m having fun.

How to pin the main menu to always have it visible

It’s the little things that are the cherry on top

When you open the main menu in ABCgrower you can click the pin icon to always have it visible.  The main pane will resize to suit.

You can open multiple tabs

This is especially handy if you’re part way through entering information and want to check something.  Rather than navigating away from where you are and losing the information, open the menu, right click on the item you want and select Open link in a new tab. Now, you can go back and forth between tabs, no problem!

How to ensure you have the latest changes

We listen when you tell us what you need and we're constantly improving your software.

The magic formula

After a release it is good practice to press Ctrl+Shift+R on your keyboard.  This ‘hard reset’ clears the cache, making for smooth sailing ahead.

How do I know what’s new?

Ahead of changes being made we pop a notice up on the home page to say that ABCgrower will be briefly unavailable very early in the morning while the developers work their magic.

Then we add Release Notes that tell you what we’ve been up to.  A number on the bell icon indicates unread notifications.

Click on the bell to see a list of notifications. Then click on a notification to open the Release Notes. This is where we share the update news.

How to inactivate workers

Heading into harvest often means a new bunch of pickers. It's easy to 'deactivate' last seasons pickers in ABCgrower and start afresh.


Marking workers as ‘inactive’ means you’ll no longer see them in lists, so you won’t have to scroll through all the departed workers to find your current team members.  All records are retained and you can always choose to see inactive workers.


  1. Chose Worker from the Worker menu.
  2. Use the filters if necessary and [Search] for Workers.
  3. Click the [Bulk Update] button.
  4. Tick the Deactivate checkbox.
  5. Select the workers from the list by ticking Select All/and or clicking on individual workers.
  6. Click [Save].

Huge growth for miniature apple producer Rockit Apples with help from ABCpacker

Rockit Global has enjoyed phenomenal growth over its nine years of operation, and ABC has played a significant role in helping achieve this.

Scott Griffin, Rockit Global’s General Manager of Operations, says the ABCpacker programme that records and reports on the traceability of apples from orchard to finished goods “has worked well for us. It’s played a big part in getting Rockit to the stage that it is.”

Rockit Global grows, packs and sells miniature apples packed in unique tubes.  Its apples are grown under license agreements in New Zealand, Australia, USA, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Belgium, and are now available year-round in more than 30 countries.  Turnover is up over 25 percent year on year.  Formed in 2012, ABC came on board in 2015 to help with packing inventory and traceability through its ABCpacker programme.  Over the intervening years, the ABC team has worked closely with Rockit Global staff to tailor the software to match the growing business’ needs.

Meeting the regulatory requirements of market access to the ever-expanding number of export countries is “extremely important”, says Sarah Duncan, Quality & Compliance Manager.  

“Regulators have a lot of confidence in the system, which makes our lives easier – we know that all our systems are compliant because of the software.”

Kay Lorimer, Logistics Manager, agrees.  “Market access is the key for us. The software certainly manages the key requirements we have for market access, which is huge.”  She notes that the integration of ABC with NZ Apples and Pears means that shared information “closely flows through into our system”.  “Our phenomenal growth has meant our software has had to grow with us,” says Sarah.  “ABC is very supportive and proactive in developing the software to meet our needs as we grow.”

The ability to customise ABCpacker is fundamental to its success.

“Everything can be customised, it’s not something that’s a flat package where you can’t make any changes. We can dive in and make it exactly how we want it for all our users, which is a benefit of being able to work closely with them.” Supply Chain Manager, Dennis Paxie, agrees.  “The flexibility of the software and the support of the ABC team has made a big difference in helping us grow.  An off the shelf solution wouldn’t have enabled this due to the nuances that we need in our sort of operation.”

The “wealth of knowledge” ABC has of the horticulture industry is another plus for the company, Kay says.  “They’ve been doing this for a long time, and we are a relatively new company. We know what the problem is, and they know how to solve it. They’ve been there before, seen it before, and know what needs to be done. They offer solutions that we can customise to suit us.”  The responsiveness of the ABC team is seen as another strength.  “We just pick up the phone and they’re there. We get answers really quickly, and if they need to come back to us, we’re not left hanging for days on end,” says Kay.

Rockit Global’s off-season provides a short window for enhancements to be made to the software, and 2021 has been a big one ahead of its state-of-the-art packhouse, coolstore and office facility in Irongate, Hastings getting into full swing.  Having not managed its own fruit storage before meant pallet scanning and other systems needed to be trialled and tested to ensure everything is located where it should be.  A full despatch module has integrated the sales and logistics teams to provide better visibility and allocation of fruit into specific markets.  The tracking of all packaging elements for the vastly increased packhouse throughput has also been strengthened.

In a separate project, Production Manager, Michael Kelly worked with ABC Software to ensure the company could provide full traceability on fruit for the Japanese market.  As fumigation is required, a remote team under his supervision must unpack and then repack the fruit to meet that country’s regulations.  “It works exactly as I need it to, and frankly makes my job a lot easier.”  During the previous season, tracking had been done manually on spreadsheets, which Michael says, “was extremely difficult”.  “We contracted this need to ABC to automate and now it runs seamlessly.”

All agree that working with ABC Software is a pleasant experience, citing good clear communication, responsiveness, and the willingness to “nut things out together”.

"They deliver on what’s needed and are good people to work with”
Scott Griffin, General Manager Operations

Berry Farms NZ find going digital helps keep their finger on the pulse

“Using ABCgrower for us has benefitted the business in the sense that we can see where our costs are.”
Johnny Milmine, General Manager
Berry Farms NZ

Thriving partnership helps Mr Apple grow great apples

When this country’s largest apple grower, packer and exporter wanted to streamline its operations it approached ABC.

Today Mr Apple New Zealand Limited owns 14 orchards across Hawke’s Bay, totalling 900ha and producing more than two million cartons of apples each year.  The company also sources a further million cartons from more than 50 growers around Hawke’s Bay.

The apples are primarily destined for the export market.  However, five years ago it was struggling with inefficient pack house and logistics computer software that was ultimately constraining the company’s growth.  Mr Apple CEO Andrew van Workum, says right from the start they could see the team at ABC was highly experienced, skilled business analysts and software developers.  Since then ABC has delivered systems to allow Mr Apple to effectively manage their fruit from the orchard to the pack houses and cool stores, onto the markets and through to customer invoicing and grower payments.

The systems were designed to ensure data was entered only once.  All parts of the system are fully integrated, giving Mr Apple a holistic and complete view of their business in real time.  The documents and reports published from the system are professional, timely and accurate and this is reflected in the very positive feedback from both growers and customers.

ABC Software continues to help Mr Apple improve productivity.  A recent cool store acquisition meant Mr Apple required a software solution specifically designed to manage the logistics of the cool store operation.

“This project started late in the year and put tremendous pressure on those involved, the implementation and operational results have exceeded expectations and budgeted throughput volumes” says Andrew.

The current season required a new system to help manage Mr Apple’s six hundred overseas returning seasonal workers (RSE).  This system manages the employee’s reimbursement of expenses to Mr Apple plus compliance reporting.  Again. ABC was able to successfully respond to Mr Apple’s needs in the ever-changing marketplace.  “They work with us to find a solution, rather than trying to tell us what we need.” says Andrew.

“The relationship Mr Apple has with ABC is the type of business relationship a company is always looking for"
Andrew van Workum, CEO

Keeping tabs on production as simple as ABC for CAJ van der Voort

Central Otago packhouse, CAJ van der Voort reckons that using ABCpacker is pretty straightforward and having it tweaked to exactly what they need is even easier.

The top of line packhouse in Ettrick pushes through over 800,000 tray carton equivalents in a season and boasts some of the latest in New Zealand and Dutch pipfruit sorting and packing technology to achieve best efficiencies and productivity.

Two seasons ago, Jackie van der Voort, Packhouse Post-harvest Manager, called on ABC to provide an integration solution for its Dutch 14-lane Greefa Geosort system, which can produce about 2500 cartons an hour.

ABCpacker now captures all aspects of the packhouse operation and links into the same system at the T&G Ettrick coolstore.  Jackie says this unique integration works brilliantly.  “CAJ has integrated the ABC software with our packhouse and the T&G coolstore, which allows the operators a real time view of inventory at both sites.  This allows the packhouse to streamline its packing plan.  Having two businesses working together with one piece of software is efficient and creates real synergies,” says Jackie.

“We can choose how we pull the fruit from the coolstore. It is easy to identify the product and group by grower, by block and by harvest date.”

Rodger Brown, T&G Ettrick Site Manager – Pipfruit says it makes the whole process completely visible with clear traceability on dispatch.  The integration with his charging system is another bonus.  Rodger believes productivity is improved due to connectivity.  “It’s easy for the operators, they can do everything from their seat anywhere in the coolstore.  There’s no delays like in the past. We can locate what’s needed straight away. I’d say things have improved 10-fold.”

A third aspect of this connectivity is with the orchards sending into T&G. Remarkables Orchard is a case in point.  Manager Mark Sim utilises ABCgrower, which integrates seamlessly into ABCpacker.  He uses the software on his 70ha mixed orchard to check on picker and thinner performance, identifying those that need training or supervision to lift their output. It also allows him to check daily reports to see the financial implications of each day’s activities and adjust as needed.

Produce leaving his property is scanned into the system and then scanned by T&G into the store.  All easily recorded and traceable.  All three parties are enthusiastic about the flexibility and willingness the team at ABC Software has to adapt, amend and enhance their software to meet specific individual needs.

Leandro Massariolo, Dispatch Coordinator at the CAJ packhouse is responsible for ensuring the software performs as required.  He says the system worked well in the first season, but ABC Software was keen to make it better. The second season was even more efficient, he says.

“They came here and listened and were pretty much onboard with anything we wanted to do, and they made it happen.”

Jackie van der Voort agrees.  “Whether it’s a tweak or a design enhancement, they’re ready and able to create something different.  If we want to look at something differently or report in a different format, those opportunities are there.  We’re not stuck with a product that’s come off the shelf that’s inflexible, it is absolutely fit for purpose.”  As an example, Jackie is very pleased with a new program that ABC worked with her team on for this past season.  Communicating with staff on the packing line had been run through Greefa but is now via ABC.  Packhouse managers can put up graphics and messages on screens showing what product is being packed, variety, fruit orientation, and other details.

It’s also used to communicate birthday messages, which is always well received, Jackie says.  “It’s a small thing but it’s really a big thing as far as operations in the packing shed goes, how we communicate.  I’m delighted at how smoothly it’s integrated with this pretty big beast we run.”

Coming up to speed with the ABC’s software was also not an issue.  Jackie says the training was thorough for all the personnel that needed it, with really good back up support, particularly through that first season as staff got used to the new system.

For Rodger, the simplicity of point and click made it easy for his team to learn “And the ABC support crew was always only a phone call away.”

"The sheer ease of the software is fantastic"
Rodger Brown, T&G Pipfruit Site Manager
CAJ van der Voort

Integrity of data and accurate information critical for Koala Cherries growth

Koala cherries, arguably Australia’s largest cherry operation, has grown “monumentally” in the past five years, doubling its crop size.

Chris Nealon, Chief Operations Officer, attributes the ability to have grown so successfully in no small part to the role ABC plays in the business.

Five seasons ago Koala introduced ABC Software’s packhouse data control system ABCpacker.  It has since added ABCgrower into its field operations and is about to start trialling the spray diary module.  Efficiencies through improved and integrated data control, data integrity and data flow, have hugely helped the business grow, Chris says.

“ABC’s software gives us good database architecture with the ability to easily manipulate and use information right from tree to customer.”

Koala Cherries has 220ha of fruit across its various farms in Victoria, with two more substantial farms under development.  This year, 3000 tonnes of cherries were processed through its Yarck packhouse, with 100 tonne each day.  Chris says that ABCpacker “happily ticks along” dealing with the myriad of packhouse data elements – handling units including packaging, pallets, cartons, stock control – plus admin and sales all happening at the same time.

“It doesn’t ever struggle to keep up. We can be confident that ABC will keep powering along in the background.”

It’s this confidence in data integrity that Koala gains huge benefits from.  Using ABC as a primary, secure, central database across all facets of the business means Chris and his team can pull out information and use it however it’s needed.  Reporting is easy, integration to our payroll is straightforward, pickers and contractors have confidence they are paid accurately, stock is tracked efficiently, and the ability to effectively meet the differing requirements of customers including Australia’s four largest supermarkets and their respective ordering systems, is a given.

“To have accurate data flow crossing through all our platforms is critical, as is speed.  Time is very critical in a cherry harvest.  With the ABC integration we have data at our fingertips. Our marketing team, our production team, in fact everyone can all see the information they need quickly and easily. It’s made us hugely more efficient.”

Working with the ABC Software team in New Zealand has proved no barrier for Koala.  Chris says suggestions for improvements are met with an open mind and can-do attitude.  He appreciates that he can access any of the ABC team and is not limited to just one point of contact.  “The whole team steps up to do what’s needed.  They might have their own specialisation, but everyone has a broad understanding of the software and is there to help.”

“It certainly makes everyone’s day easier”
Chris Nealon