Home' Grower : February 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- February 2013
Rigid electric-sided truck paves way
By STEPHANIE GROPLER
ADELAIDE Hills fruit grow-
er Craig Harris is always
looking for ways to become
And Vawdrey's Wingliner is
helping him do just that.
It is the only commercial rigid
electric-sided truck in South
Australia, offering access in sec-
The fourth-generation farmer
said the new tr uck had raised the
scale of efficiency at his Harrisville
Orchards business at Lenswood,
particularly at har vest.
"During har vest, most of us only
need to go five or 10 minutes
down the road from the orchard
to the pack house or to the cool
rooms," Mr Harris said.
"It is ver y fr ustrating to spend 15
minutes tying a load on, to go five
minutes down the road to then
spend another 15 minutes untying
"The police are clamping down
on the trucks a lot more and mak-
ing sure their loads are tied on cor-
rectly and that everything is
"It just seems to be a waste
of time, but to do everything
legally you have to tie it all on so I
guess that is sort of the basis that
made us start looking for an easier
and quicker way."
Mr Harris said the Wingliner's
operation was straightfor ward:
once the tr uck was loaded, it was
as simple as pushing a button and
waiting 30 seconds as the side
dropped down and locked into
He said the system did not come
cheap, but he expected it would
pay for itself in four years because
it cut down on labour costs.
"I worked out last year that, to
secure our loads properly during
har vest, I would have had to put
on another man," Mr Harris said.
"I did take the truck down to the
Pooraka markets and it caused a
lot of interest there.
"Once people saw it
working they just
Vawdrey's Wingliner speeds-
Tying a load delays loading
Police clamp down on illegal
Vawdrey's Wingliner does not need straps, gates, or buckles and is
thought it's so simple, yet there is
nothing else around like it."
Mr Harris said another advan-
tage was that once the sides were
up, there was clear access to load
the entire truck.
"With the side curtain on trucks,
you can load sort of 75 per cent of
the truck and then you need to
shift the curtains up the other end
to put those last few pallets or bins
on and that's just a pain," he said.
"I just want to make growers
aware that there are simple and
quick ways of securing your load,
rather than getting a huge big fine
like some of them did at the
SA grapegrowers seek off-farm employment
WHILE winegrape prices may have
rebounded slightly last year from
the rock-bottom levels recorded in
recent vintages, growers in many
regions are still struggling to meet
their production costs.
The Wine Grape Council of South
Australia's 2012 Survey revealed
that while many of the State's
grapegrowers were feeling more
confident about the future of the
industry, they still relied on off-
farm income, experienced issues
with winery delivery times and
payments, and were nearing the
age of retirement.
WGCSA executive officer Peter
Hackworth said the price rise
observed should not be interpreted
as supply and demand being back
"Farmgate income for
winegrapes has been declining
over the last decade and, despite a
nearly 20 per cent rise last year,
total farmgate income for South
Australian winegrape growers is
still 44pc ($232 million) behind
what they received in 2002," Mr
The survey, which was completed
by 1020 of the State's 3500
growers last year, found that only
23pc of grapegrowers now derive
their main income from the
production of winegrapes. One
quarter of all respondents
supplemented their winegrape
income -- possibly with other crops
or off-farm work -- while 42pc
relied on other sources for the bulk
of their income.
Approximately 10pc of
respondents indicated that they
had looked for full or part-time
work in the previous 12 months.
Almost two-thirds were successful
in finding further work, with truck
driving and contracting the most
popular roles sought. Nearly 40pc
of these jobs were outside the
The well-publicised challenges
facing the industry in recent years
have made many young people
reluctant to join the grapegrowing
sector or take over family
operations. Consequently, less than
10pc of survey respondents were
under 40 years of age, and 43pc
were aged over 60.
"One of the challenges for the
wine industry is that half of
grapegrowers are likely to want to
retire over the next decade and we
are unclear what that will mean,"
Mr Hackworth said.
The survey also found that
'despite the difficult years, few had
removed vines or sold vineyards'.
Mr Hackworth suggested that the
reasons for this could include the
cost of removing vines, lack of
alternative crops and the rapid
drop in vineyard values.
"Those with off-farm income or
who also grow other commodities
are better placed to absorb losses
from winegrapes and we found
that many believe prices will
eventually rise, that winegrapes
were like other commodities in that
prices rise and fall over time," he
While 9pc of respondents
removed vines, this represented
less than 2pc of SA's total vineyard
area and many growers indicated
that they planned to replant -- most
with a different variety -- in the
Rather than remove vines, the
survey indicated that many
growers were working to lower
their crop yields.
"They are doing this in an
attempt to achieve higher grades
and therefore higher prices for
their grapes, while others are
reducing costs by applying less
water and fertiliser," he said.
About one in 10 growers reported
issues with payments for their
fruit, a result Mr Hackworth found
"This is very concerning,
particularly given that South
Australia is unique in having the
Wine Grape Industry Act, which
requires that full payment for
winegrapes be completed by
September 30 each year," he said.
"It's also illegal for someone to
buy winegrapes if they owe money
from previous vintages.
"This seems to be a particular
problem with new entrants to the
industry, people who have seen an
opportunity to buy grapes cheap
because of the glut and try to sell
that as bulk wine and then
discover that is harder to do than
Payment problems appear to be
most common in the Barossa
Valley and McLaren Vale, with
these two regions alone
accounting for almost half of all
incomplete payment reports and
47pc of all late payment
complaints reported in the survey.
Wine Grape Council of South
Australia executive officer Peter
Hackworth said price rises
observed should not be
interpreted as supply and
demand being back in balance.
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