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APAL Awards for Excellence nominations closing soon


Nominations for the APAL Awards for Excellence close in less than a week, on Monday 6 April.

Jason Shields won the 2019 Grower of the Year award

The annual industry awards are a way of recognising outstanding contributors to the apple and pear industry, people and businesses working across all areas of the supply chain – from production and processing through to marketing and export.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced APAL to cancel the yearly APAL Industry Forum, the 2020 APAL Awards for Excellence will still be given to recipients who have helped shape the industry over the last 12 months.

Jason Shields, Orchard Manager at Goulburn Valley-based Plunkett Orchards was awarded Grower of the Year in 2019 for adoption of best practice, innovation and industry leadership exemplified by his generosity of sharing his knowledge.

Jason introduced picking platforms to his business, allowing for access to a larger pool of potential employees while removing various hazards that came with the use of ladders and bags.

“There’s no one running down the rows in front of the machinery where they are actually working,” Jason said speaking to AFG magazine after winning the award.

“Our staff need less training — we can put a person on the platform and once they’re used to the movement, they pick the same amount of fruit at the start of the season as they do at the end.

“Our biggest problem with rejects would happen as the fruit was coming off the tree, now the only time one piece of fruit touches another is in the bin.”

Jason admits that while this year’s crop is a little less even than other years, the platforms have still made things easier.

“I’d have done no good in the awards this year,” said Jason this week.

“It’s been a bit of an uneven crop so far, although things are starting to look okay. The more even the crop, the better the platforms work. That being said, using ladders and bags would have made things 10 times more difficult.

“The Granny Smiths are looking really good and once we start picking them, that’s when the platforms will start working well.”

The Ardmona-based farmer won not only APAL’s Grower of the Year award, but also AUSVEG’s Grower of the Year for all fruit and vegetable growers in 2019.

Click here for more information on the awards, or to nominate.

APAL awards

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