Home' Grower : April 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- April 2011
Apples & pears
grow at NPC.
"The site was also chosen
because of its position away from
other horticultural areas," Fergus
said. "We are 25 kilometres from
Kalangadoo to the west and a
similar distance from anything to
position to effectively control
pests and disease and,
importantly, we have abundant
The orchard is irrigated via
raised driplines from bores
supplying excellent quality water.
Rivercorp will aim for a 35kg
average per tree at full
production, with galas at about
30kg and granny smiths 40kg.
"Obviously, in any orchard you
won't end up with that, with
birds, insects, disease and wind all
affecting the end result," Fergus
"But (as an example) 35t/ha of
har vestable fruit, for galas, would
be a good result."
Pruning for single apples along
the limbs, to prevent rubbing
caused by doubles and triples, is
another strategy employed to
further maximise yield.
A decision to use liquid
fertilisers and specialist
applications led Rivercorp to use
Agritrading, which imports
organic-allowable inputs --
including phosphates -- at
competitive prices. Weed control
includes the application of
organic oil products and the use
of a mechanical weeder.
A canopy spray protectant has
been developed against sunburn,
which is much cheaper and more
effective than other products
available. This has proved very
effective in the Riverland.
In the SE, lucerne is grown
inter-row and cut with a side-
Among other measures,
are used to controls 'soft bugs'
and sucking insects.
A decision to allow weeds, such
as fat hen, to grow inter-row at
Loxton this season was effective
in dispelling significant heat,
retaining moisture and creating
cooler conditions for pickers. The
weeds were then slashed, rather
than sprayed out.
At both orchards, plant-
available liquid calcium is applied
efficiently through the drip
system, improving the cell wall
structure for more robust fruit.
Determined to fully-protect the
SE orchard against frost,
Rivercorp has installed overhead
sprays over the entire orchard,
with water delivered from two
One is supplied by two bores --
which can refill the dam within
24 hours -- while the other is fed
from one, but can take reser ves
from a 70mgL lake. This provides
the orchard with a maximum 13
days coverage, operating at 10
hours a day.
"One of our biggest problems
(in the SE) is overcoming frost at
flowering," Fergus said. "So we
made a conscious decision to plan
for the worst case scenario and
mitigate the risk."
Birds are another major threat
and trials are under way with
Staff consult widely to
increase 'knowledge base'
Two dams, lake provide total
Established for liquid fertilis-
ers, specialist inputs
AT A GLANCE
leading company Bird Gard to
employ a series of deterrents. This
will be fine-tuned during the next
Nangwarr y is likely to produce
8 tonnes a hectare to 10t/ha next
year (from mid-February),
growing to 35t/ha average in
following seasons. The aim will
be to sell early season
apples to the fresh
markets to gain
the best price
Australia and internationally,
especially in northern Europe,
there will be opportunities when
continuity of supply can be
In Asia, the market for granny
smiths is growing while Europe
continues to demand pink lady.
"But all markets are price-
sensitive and you need to be at
the quality end," Fergus said.
"There are huge price
variables as the season rolls
out -- and while markets are
increasing for organic
produce, you need to be
able to provide consistent
supply for 12 months
of the year."
Orchard performance manager Lisa Varady liases with the Loxton and
Nangwarry managers to ensure quality standards and efficiencies.
All trellis posts (about 200/ha) and strainers (20/ha) have been cut from
eucalyptus nitens, which grow at NPC.
CEO of Rivercorp Land & Water Fergus McLachlan says key personnel continually appraise the operation to
extend the "knowledge base" at every opportunity.
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