Jenny and Michael have owned their orchard for nearly three years. It was previously owned by Selwyn Manning, and was originally planned by Stephen Brailsford. Since taking on the orchard, Jenny and Michael have increased harvest from 0.7 to 2.4 tonnes.
The main variety is Whiteheart with Alex and MdB as pollinisers. They sell the main crop in its entirety and keep the polliniser nuts for their own consumption. They use a vacuum harvester and blower for harvest, and Michael has developed a tilt-table for sorting and clearing out the leaf litter and husks.
A very useful tool purchased in the last year is a battery operated hedgetrimmer (Stihl HLA 65). The trimming head can be angled like a hockey stick and does a great job in cutting suckers. The battery pack lasts a couple of hours – long enough to clean out a complete block. When new suckers appear Michael applies Buster, and is now finding that he has almost halved the amount of spray he was using prior to the hedgetrimmer (60L vs. 100L). It was hard work in the first year to get on top of the suckers, but he is finding it much better 2nd year in. The cost was $500, plus battery, approx. $700 total.
Fertiliser – they had used a mix provided by Sjef from Sustainable Nutrition but are now members of Ravensdown and test the soil through Hill Laboratories in Hornby. Hills also perform leaf analysis. Ravensdown advise on fertiliser applications. Last spring they applied Calcium ammonium nitrate or CAN at 60g/tree. Murray said he applies boron as a foliar feed in October to avoid soil leaching, while Alan Mathewson has applied dolomite for magnesium deficiency.
Battery-powered hedgetrimmer which can be used for sucker control
Leaf damage at the Petherick orchard