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Technical skills development for emerging orchard managers

Research & Extension

A new intensive short course being created by APAL aims to upskill up-and-coming orchard managers in practical fruit production knowledge.

A 2.5m x 0.8m Nicoter (Kanzi®) planting visited during Nic’s time in South Africa.

South African approach 

During August 2023, I attended the Prophyta Pome and Stone Fruit Industry Short Course in Grabouw, South Africa, to evaluate how their short course is structured and run. Across six days, a series of interactive lectures covered a wide range of topics, including the processes behind fruit growth and development, irrigation, nutrition, ground preparation and post-harvest management of fruit. 

Working from Tromp, Webster and Wertheim’s Fundamentals of Temperate Zone Tree Fruit Production, a range of South African experts discussed the theory and practical aspects of pome and stone fruit production, equipping participants with a deeper understanding of the ‘why’ behind orchard practices. Field visits were also undertaken visiting growers producing high cumulative yields, new planting systems, rootstock evaluations and new varieties.  

Following this visit, an equivalent course localised to Australia is being developed and will be presented for the first time in winter 2024. 

APAL Short Course in Fruit Production 

The APAL Short Course in Fruit Production is a five-day intensive course set to be delivered for the first time in 2024. It aims to equip current and emerging fruit growers with an understanding of the underlying processes in the orchard, improving on-farm capability around decision-making, orchard design and wider industry representation. 

This intensive course is targeted at current and emerging leaders, with the course designed to provide an understanding of the horticultural processes behind tree/fruit growth and development, irrigation, nutrition, economics of fruit production, pest and disease management, as well as a base understanding of pre- and post-harvest fruit management. Participants will undertake four days of lectures/classes, culminating in a field day visiting leading Goulburn Valley growers to put learned theory into practice. 

The APAL Short Course in Fruit Production is scheduled to follow the 2024 Future Orchards® Winter Orchard Walk Series, with the anticipated dates for the course being 29 July – 2 August 2024 in the Goulburn Valley, Victoria. 

For further information on the program, including expressing interest in participation or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Nic Finger: [email protected]. 

 

This article was first published in the Summer 2023/4 edition of AFG.

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