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2023 Future Orchards Spring Series wrap-up


Last week the Future Orchards® Walks Spring Series took place across Australia with the Tasmania, Batlow, Southern Victoria and Goulburn Valley walks rounding out the second half of the week.

APAL’s Future Orchards® Orchard Walks took place across eight apple and pear growing regions throughout Australia to discuss practical strategies to optimise tree fruit nutrition. AgFirst guests, Ross Wilson and Craig Hornblow were joined by guests from Washington, USA with Suzanne Bishop (Allan Bros) discussing cropload management in the context of reducing reliance on growth regulators and Garrett Bishop (GS Long) who covered off strategies to track and manage diseases in the orchard. 

Key messages out of the orchard walks included: 

  • Undertake regular nutrition monitoring to ensure inputs match requirements 
    • Balance of nitrogen and potassium is critical and should be managed intensively 
    • Monitoring over time can provide much better information than in isolation 
    • Optimise soil pH and base saturations of cations 
      • If you know there are challenges with the soil, plan nutrition strategy to minimise the impact 
  • Yield is important but managing light is equally important for achieving quality fruit 
    • “Be possessive of your light windows” – Suzanne Bishop 
  • Tracking the patterns of disease symptoms can be critical for identifying and evaluating any changes or need to remove trees 

At each orchard walk a standard dry ash leaf sample was taken. When these results come back, results will be communicated back to the grower and an interpretation of the results will also be reported to the wider growing group. 

To see the slides from this walk series, please visit: Future Orchards Library – Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) 

APAL would like to thank all of the growers who hosted the walks over the last week for both their time and for opening up their farms to others. We would also like to thank the Front Line Advisors in each region for their organisational efforts as well as all the participants at each walk. 



Batlow, New South Wales

Michael and Jeremy Smart hosted this walk with their Nicoter (Kanzi) and Pink Lady blocks up for discussion. With some younger blocks on this orchard, strategies for croploading to ensure crop can be maximised whilst ensuring canopy space was filled were key topics with the indoor discussion of nutrient management forming a key part of this discussion. 


Brad & Graeme Finger Orchard

Southern Victoria

Brad and Graeme Finger from Gruyere hosted the Southern Victoria orchard walk. Participants viewed one of their Pink Lady blocks with their approach to pruning and thinning efficiently were discussed. This farm used power ladders for the majority of these tasks with pruning costs well below average. The walk finished with a visit to some young Gala grafts which had seen an impressive chemical thinning result with most clusters thinning downs to singles. 




John Evans in Geeveston took participants to his orchard to see a range of Nicoter (Kanzi) and Scilate (Envy) blocks. Discussion around improving efficiency through narrow canopies, ensuring young trees have the best opportunity for growth and a demonstration of his new platform for pruning were all received on the day. 


Duffy Orchards


Ross Duffy hosted this walk at his Invergordon orchard. The group visited Pink Lady and Gala blocks with discussion focussing on balancing nutrition as well as the timing of pruning to manage vigour. Great examples of early vs late pruned Gala were on show with those pruned earlier in winter having more growth relative to those pruned later in the year.  


Nannup Fresh Fruit

Nannup, Western Australia

The Southern loop kicked off at Nannup Fresh Fruit (Mark, Catherine and James Scott’s orchard) with discussions focussing on the management on bitter pit and lenticel breakdown in Nicoter (Kanzi ®) and strategies to improve packout in ANABP-01 (Bravo®). A focus on balancing soil and leaf nutrient levels, optimising cropload, controlling vigour, enhancing colour development and picking at optimal maturity were all discussed as key factors in improving outcomes on these blocks. 


Fonlea Orchards

Stanthorpe, Queensland

The start of the Northern loop saw a number of growers visit Fonlea Orchards hosted by Trent Vedelago. Discussion focussed heavily on maintaining yields of older Cripps Pink blocks as well as improving their colour and packouts. Nutrition, vigour control and optimising croploading were key discussion topics. Discussions finished comparing two CIVG198 (Modi ®) and the challenges faced in filling the canopy on an M9 rootstock in the growing conditions with one block close to full and the other still needing more work. 


Stoneleigh Orchard

Orange, New South Wales

The Orange orchard walk was hosted by Ian and Prue Pearce on their orchard, Stoneleigh. The focus of this walk was centred around balancing size, colour and cropload to achieve high class 1 packouts. Strategies discussed included balancing nutrition, minimising in-field stress and establishing optimal croploads early. 


AG & HC Mason

Adelaide Hills, South Australia

The Adelaide Hills orchard walk was hosted by Noel Mason and looked at their approach to nutrition, growth regulators and optimising cropload across a range of blocks. Ross and Noel had worked together to evaluate all of the inputs for each block viewed on the day and compared it to the crop removal amount for last year for each nutrient. Contrasting this with recent soil tests, a seasonal strategy and plan for seasonal nutritional inputs was able to be made in the field. 


We look forward to seeing you at the next series!

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