Orchard Walk – Northern Victoria
Written by Petar Bursac, Fruit Growers Victoria
Future Orchards is a project designed to increase production, lower orchard production costs per kilogram of fruit, increase the percentage of premium fruit harvested and bring Australian orchardists up to international competitiveness in the domestic and export markets and hold regular orchard walks. Orchard walks are an important part of Future Orchards and they consist of two parts –
- Presentations; and
- A visit to one local orchard.
The Goulburn Valley orchard walk was held on Friday 29th of January 2016. Despite to busy season, the event was visited by 40 people
Growers had an opportunity to see presentations made by Mauricio Frias from Chile, Jonathan Brookes from AgFirst and Petar Bursac from Fruit Growers Victoria. Due to heavy rain, the second part of the event consisting of a visit to a local orchard, had to been cancelled, but feedback on the presentations was good.
Mauricio Frias is a consultant from Chile with more than 30 years’ experience in horticulture, specialising in apples, pears, cherries and kiwifruit. Mauricio has broad experience from different segments of fruit production such as mechanisation, critical orchard analysis, sprayer diagnostic and calibration and thinning apples.
In his presentation, Mauricio has shown different types of mechanisation used in apple production such as machines for picking and pruning, spraying, mulching and latest research findings in the area of robotics.
Besides mechanisation, there has been discussion on evolution of training systems, canopy shapes, distances between trees and different operations in orchard. The presentation was very illustrative and was enjoyed by the audience.
Jonathan Brookes and Craig Hornblow, consultants from AgFirst, are members of the Future Orchards team. Jonathan is responsible for northern and Craig for the southern loop.
According to Jonathan, to ensure financial sustainability of orchards, harvest management requires a combined focus on market acceptable yield (Perfection), productivity influencing costs (Production) and the people required to make it all happen (People). In order to bring closer this idea to growers, Jonathan has presented this model in the form of a “stool”. If any one of these stool legs is not correctly managed the entire process is likely to seriously wobble or fall over.
Jonathan has demonstrated to growers one very important tool used by many apple and pear producers called OrchardNet®. OrchardNet® is an online database that provides live business updates from the orchard that can be shared with managers, consultants, pack houses and exporters instantaneously. It uses technology that can track history, provide benchmarks and forecast performance. OrchardNet is available free to Australian apple and pear levy payers.
Petar Bursac, Industry Development Officer from Fruit Growers Victoria, is responsible for running field trials and has informed growers on the progress of trials. Petar presented some preliminary results, final results will be presented at field day in the winter.
Unfortunately, Petar’s presentation was cut short at the Future Orchard event but is available for download below.