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Horticulture

Orchardists share secrets at open day

TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Apple and Pear Australia Limited technical manager Jesse Reader, AgFirst consultant Steve Spark and Future Orchards senior horticultural consultant Stephen Tancred shared expert advice with Granite Belt fruit growers at the Stanthorpe Orchard Walk on Friday.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Apple and Pear Australia Limited technical manager Jesse Reader, AgFirst consultant Steve Spark and Future Orchards senior horticultural consultant Stephen Tancred shared expert advice with Granite Belt fruit growers at the Stanthorpe Orchard Walk on Friday. Ella Archibald-Binge

NEARLY 30 Granite Belt fruit growers gathered to hear from the best in the business at the Stanthorpe Orchard Walk, held at Pozieres on Friday.

Organised by Future Orchards, the event gave growers an opportunity to discuss some of the major issues affecting the industry through two presentations and a tour of a local apple orchard.

As supermarkets increase demands for quality produce at minimum prices, the session outlined techniques for growers to meet mounting pressures.

Future Orchards senior horticultural consultant Stephen Tancred said growers needed to find new ways to keep down costs down while still delivering quality fruit.

"We're trying to increase productivity and decrease costs," he said.

With this in mind, Mr Tancred said local growers needed to take particular care with fruit nutrition - something that could be particularly challenging in the Granite Belt region.

"We're all on top of pests and disease, but nutrition is a silent thing that creeps up on you," he said.

"A big part is getting the fertiliser right, especially in Stanthorpe, where the soil is very poor.

"It's important to get the right mix so you get good quality and high yield."

New Zealand AgFirst consultant Steve Spark made his second trip to Stanthorpe this year to share his tips on managing biennial bearing, which can also play an important part in fruit yields.

Apple and Pear Australia Limited technical manager Jesse Reader said Mr Spark's presentation gave growers ideas on how to maximise production.

"Biennial bearing impacts growers because it results in severely decreased production every second year, often resulting in orchardists making significant losses," Mr Reader said.

"To be able to manage this variability from year to year on these biennial sensitive varieties will result in increased returns and more stable productive orchards."

A regular orchard walks presenter, Mr Reader said the Future Orchards program continued to enjoy positive feedback from growers around the country.

"The walks are successful because they deal with the real issues and needs of Australian fruit growers," he said.

"We provide timely, relevant and useful tools to increase orchard productivity and assist in the upskilling of our industry."

Mr Reader said the program endeavoured to bring experts to all corners of Australia.

"The Future Orchards program has continued to deliver experts from all over the world to the doorsteps of Australian growers and, with over 500 people attending Future Orchards annually, it continues to be a great success," he said.

"We are very focused on increasing production and quality and continue to address the key drivers for orchard performance."

Mr Tancred said feedback from last week's orchard walk was overwhelmingly positive.

"We had great feedback," he said.

"People stayed for a long time, and there was lots of good discussion."

APAL orchard walks are held twice a year in key growing regions around Australia.

Topics:  field day horticulture