Emerging Leaders Depart for Tassie

Emerging Leaders Depart for Tassie

Group Shot at Hotel

On 15 August, fifteen members of the Emerging Leaders Group departed very early in the morning to spend a whirl wind couple of days in Tasmania as a result of funding received from the Building Better Communities Fund.

Arriving in Tasmania at 7am the group were able to get straight into the action-packed itinerary! We started with breakfast at Richmond with a local Agronomist who was very keen to talk to us about Queensland Fruit Fly and how we as farmers and advisors are managing it.

We then headed to Tasmania’s largest apricot/cherry orchard “Cherry Cot”. The 100 Ha orchard was originally bought and developed in 1999 by an investment plan company. Four years ago this orchard was bought by a Victorian partnership who has been working very hard to bring it back from disrepair. They hope to get their first good crop of cherries and apricots off it this year, all things going well after a hard four year of renovating and re training.

We discussed the soil type which even though it looks rich is high in salinity and low in nutrients. Frost is a major issue in this valley and the use of helicopters is required for frost control as both these varieties are very prone to damage. Labour was high on the list of concerns.

We then visited Bourbon Creek Orchards, another cherry grower with very rich looking soil but again high salinity and excess Magnesium. This orchard was very well manicured, only 3.5 Ha but very high yielding, niche varieties, self -packed and the majority going straight for export. The trees were well cared for with a double V lay out and lots of netting.

Our next visit was to Tasmania’s largest 500Ha apple and cherry producer Howard Hanson’s Orchard. This was a very impressive, high density, good contour, and nutrient rich orchard in the Huon Valley. Hanson’s have developed and grown over the years with a fantastic marketing brand and family back story. We walked through the pack house and  were all very impressed. Although it wasn’t running, we could imagine the output would be very high when operating at capacity.

After a big Day it was time to check into the hotel and enjoy each other’s company and discuss the days events over dinner.

On Day 2, our first visit was to Oaks Nursery which was very impressive seeing all the trees ready to be shipped to the mainland.  We even recognised some of our own names, it was a treat to see the stock the guys will be receiving very soon. The nursery is on nice mucky rich soil and varieties are isolated and protected from crossing. The ground is rotated as needed and all new paddocks get treated with microbes, fumigants, organic matters and many tests to ensure they will be suitable for the mother stock to go in.

We continued to keep to a heavy schedule with a visit to Franks Orchard and Cidery for lunch where we were able to taste test the many ciders they have on offer and enjoy a hearty lunch after a cold wet morning. Then off to Tasmania’s largest organic orchard R&R Smith, who has been running an organic orchard for over 14 years and doing quite well. Bird management and labour shortage were the biggest issues facing Andrew Smith. He has done very well and nothing on his farm goes to waste and he supplies our next visit, Willie Smiths Cidery with his unmarketable apples.

All in all, it was a great visit and I think the group gained a great deal from it, and we give thanks to the Building Better Communities Fund, all our hosts, the girls at FGV for organising the itinerary, all of the Emerging Leaders who took part and were very engaged and asked questions. Special thanks M515 Old Drouin Rd, Drouin Vick for all his hard work and for making this happen.

Adrian Pogue 
“Great Networking opportunity with a great group of young growers.  Saw an interesting range of orchard styles and models.”

Steve Singh
“I enjoyed looking at the different types and different sized operations and how they differed from each other... Especially the organic apple farm was interesting, exporting good fruit & utilizing all the waste in a separate cider business... Not something I’ve seen locally... “

Bhupinder Singh Minhas
"Great trip, enjoyed every aspect of it. It was amazing to see how differently the Tasmanian growers structured their orchards along with finding different avenues to market fruit products such as ciders and juices. It was interesting to see how they battled different problems such as poor soils and salinity problems, even more amazing is how they grow and manage fruit trees on very very steep hills !!!"        

                  on orchard     Nursery Trees group shot on orchard            Day 1