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WA grower John Hearman finalist in national awards


An innovative approach to producing fast-establishing nursery trees has put WA orchardist John Hearman in the running for this year’s prestigious annual industry awards.

John, a second-generation grower and fourth-generation farmer from Donnybrook, WA, has been shortlisted for both APAL’s Rising Star, and Hort Connections Young Grower of the Year, awards.

Both awards recognise the next generation, young growers aged 35 and under, who demonstrate a high level of commitment to innovation, and who have a track record of dedication to their local community and the broader agriculture industry.

Winners will be announced during Hort Connections 2019 in Melbourne on 24-26 June.

“It is an honour to be nominated and be recognised by my peers. The recognition shows that people are noticing what I am doing within the industry and value my contribution to innovating the way we operate. It’s also nice be known as a young grower, in my early 30’s.”

John Hearman

John and his wife Sheree have been managing the family farm for approximately five years and took over ownership two years ago, with the continued support of John’s parent Peter and Penny Hearman. The Hearman Ag business grows apples, plums and yellow-fleshed nectarines and runs beef cattle.

Difficulties sourcing quality trees for the orchard prompted him to set up a nursery to grow his own. What started as solution for the family orchard has fast developed into an expanding business as other growers in the region approach him to supply them with his high-quality fruit trees.

John’s approach is to grow bench-grafted trees in bags that can be transplanted without the shock that goes with uplifting bare root trees. This enables faster establishment of trees into new orchards or as fillers into recent plantings at any time of the year. He has learnt a lot of lessons along the way, evolving his practices and methodologies.

Future Orchards Walk WA – tour of the Hearman Ag Orchard

John’s innovative thinking is paying off as he is achieving a better tree, with growth fast tracked and trees established much more quickly than bare root trees. He says he is seeing two metres growth in one year from a dominant graft.

The nursery grows a number of varieties such as ANAPB01 (marketed as Bravo®), early-maturing Pink Chief (a Cripps Pink limb sport), Granny Smith and Crab Apples.

In recent years they have transplanted 25,000 trees. They expect to do 10,000 this year and 12,000 next year. With the success of the nursery, John hopes to continue to expand his nursery.

His innovative thinking is at work in the orchard too, where the orchard has been upgraded with new plantings of Piqa® Boo® pear on multi leaders systems. Older plantings are now being replaced with new varieties on new planting systems. The Hearman Ag orchard is under permanent netting, so the focus is on producing high quality produce. In line with the current Pomewest campaign to drive better fruit quality by a focus on fruit maturity at harvest, great care is taken to make sure that the fruit is picked at the right maturity to ensure the consumer gets a great eating experience.

The 2019 APAL Awards for Excellence will be announced at the breakfast on Monday 24 June, prior to the APAL Industry Forum in Melbourne.

Join APAL at the breakfast as we celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of a number of individuals who have been nominated for:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Grower of the Year
  • Rising Star Award
  • Exporter of the Year
  • Innovative Marketing Award
  • Women in Horticulture Award
  • Researcher of the Year

Grafting Varieties and rootstock WA Young tree development

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