Home' Grower : May 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- May 2011
Fruit growing certainly
not for the faint-hearted
By JULIE PAUL
ESTABLISHING an orchard is
not just a matter of throwing
a few trees into the ground
and letting them get on with it.
It is scientific. It is risky. It is hard
work. It is extremely expensive.
The best thing to do is get some
expert advice before you begin,
and that is where Ian Daynes, of
Lenswood Rural, comes in.
The business was established in
the 1950s and Ian joined the com-
pany 11 years ago as field adviser.
He is not a contractor, but helps
set a program for prospective
orchardists and grapegrowers, and
determine the best ways they can
It is not an easy process.
"We begin by doing an econom-
ic analysis of the particular block
of land," Ian said. "We look at any
existing trees, the state of the mar-
ket, think five or six years down
the track to tr y to decide which
varieties of fruit will be suitable for
the block and, importantly, what
will be in demand then - a bit
tricky, that one.
"Then we remove existing trees
we don't want, work out a budget
that will carry the grower through
the first five years, choose our vari-
eties, and buy the trees."
The next step is clearing and cul-
tivating the land, fumigating to
destroy any bacteria and fungi that
could damage young trees, and
undertaking soil tests to determine
its nutrient requirements, which
can differ widely from district to
district. Then the fertiliser is
applied, with the grower having to
decide whether he wants to use
chemical fertilisers or take the
"The major expense begins now.
The type of trellising required
should have been included in the
economic analysis," Ian said.
"The grower then puts in his
posts and wires, and follows with
"Most people now use drip irri-
gation, although some choose to
have two systems - drip and sprin-
"Once the trees are planted, we
have to start pest control. Birds
are not usually a problem until the
trees begin to fruit, but rabbits
and hares ringbark the young
trees, and around this area we also
have problems with kangaroos and
even feral deer."
Netting is an option, definitely in
the 'extra' category.
"It usually goes on later," Ian
said. "But it can be put up as
"However, it is a long-term
process and costs about $50,000 a
hectare. Establishing the orchard
without netting costs about the
same, so netting costs are on top
"All the time, of course, we are
hoping that there will be a viable
return in about five years."
Once the trees are in, they have
to be trained to the trellis in the
style needed to shape the tree for
maximum cropping potential. If
left to grow naturally, they grow
upwards very quickly, produce lit-
tle fruit and get out of control.
"Trellising enables the trees to
get into commercial cropping
quickly," Ian said. "But it is a mas-
sive investment for orchards -- far
more than for vineyards.
"With proper trellising there
should be some fruit by the third
year and maximum production
will begin by the fifth or sixth year.
"The lifespan of the tree is deter-
mined by economics -- whether
the fr uit is continuing to sell. If
the wrong varieties have been cho-
sen it may be necessary to take the
trees out after five years and begin
again. Apples of choice always
used to be red delicious, golden
delicious and granny smiths. Now
the dominant types are pink lady,
fuji and gala. It's just a matter of
fashion and demand."
It is also a matter of taking an
enormous risk and being prepared
to make a huge investment.
Whoever thought growing fr uit
was an easy lifestyle?
Take the advice of someone like
Ian before beginning.
Details: 08 8389 8233 or
Lenswood Rural's Ian Daynes recommends a soil test as part of the
original orchard establishment analysis.
Locate underground pipes & cables first.
Take the guess work out of digging.
Log onto www.1100.com.au or dial 1100 to request
information on underground pipes and cables BEFORE you dig.
It s FREE and only takes 2 working days.
Dial Before You Dig is the essential first step in any safe excavation.
TAKE A STAB?
The Essential First Step
HAR EST TIME
... time to make sure that
next harvest you've got all
the best varieties!
Call Sam at Balhannah Nurseries:
P (08) 8389 4557
M 0412 237 684
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