Future Orchards walks – winter 2016

The next round of Future Orchards® walks are scheduled for June 2016 with a focus on high density orchards and reducing labour costs.

Growers and participants at Future Orchards Battunga

Apple growers at a Future Orchards walk – winter 2015. The 2016 winter walks will be held in June.

Australia’s apple industry is changing. With newer plantings being higher density, more orchard systems are higher in production and more efficient. There are various types of modern orchard systems that achieve this high production of marketable yield and in this round of walks we look specifically at how these systems influence orchard labour costs.

In order to be profitable, growers primarily need to focus on managing their orchards to achieve the 3P’s – Production, Packout and Price.  The 3P’s tend to focus on increasing revenue, however, a major cost to Australian growers that affects profitability that we cannot overlook is labour.  The decisions we make on our new orchard systems has a major bearing on the likely labour costs we face and in this round of orchard walks this is what we will discuss.

AgFirst presenters Ross Wilson for the Northern Loop and Steve Spark on the Southern Loop will cover the topic ‘Canopies and pedestrian orchards from a labour perspective’. They will evaluate orchard designs and the repercussions that decisions we make on design may have on labour efficiency. We’ll also see how newer technologies can boost work rates, widen the labour pool and make jobs easier. Having a good clear pruning strategies in place will deliver better results in yield and quality of fruit.  The pruning system adopted is also critical in improving efficiencies in thinning, harvesting and spraying.

In the field we will be focusing on pruning strategies where we will discuss best ways to improve quality.  We will also tackle the tricky trees and implement methods on how to bring them back under control. On the Southern Loop, Horticultural Advisor, Marcel Veens, will be the guest presenter. Marcel is well known for his depth of knowledge of Australia’s apple and pear industry. He travels to all the regions where he consults with a large number of growers on fruit production. Marcel’s expertise is in orchard design, orchard establishment, variety selection, variety specific growth habits, irrigation, nutrition, spray programs, IPDM, mechanisation, post-harvest, pruning and tree training. He will speak on the benefits he sees in adopting more modern orchard systems and in particular how the new systems can save on labour costs. In the field, along with Steve Spark, he will discuss pruning and demonstrate how to count buds to set up for more precise pruning and for next year’s crop.

With the Northern Loop we are joined by Tienie Du Preez from the apple growing region of the Western Cape of South Africa. Tienie is a consultant whose topic is managing apple nutrition in poor and variable soils. In his presentations and in the field he will demonstrate how precision management in orchards can lead to more consistent yields, quality and use of inputs. Working in many horticultural crop types his expertise is in farm design, and matching soils and climate to crop types using the terroir concept (regional characteristics eg: wine).

Southern Loop

Northern Loop


APAL’s Future Orchards® program is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd using the apple and pear industry levy funds from growers and funds from the Australian Government. AgFirst is a key Future Orchards partner.

First published 15 April 2016

By |June 15th, 2016|Future Orchards, News|

About the Author:

APAL is an industry representative body and not-for-profit membership organisation that supports Australia’s commercial apple and pear growers.