Shields Orchard - A Hawkesbury Harvest success story by Jonathan Shields
An Introduction…• Shields Orchard is a family owned orchard established in 1955!• Run by Bill and Julie Shields!• Located at Bilpin, in the picturesque Blue Mountains!• Predominately produces apples and some peaches and other stonefruit !
An Introduction…• Declining terms of trade have driven change in marketing and production over the past 1o years!• Conventional markets have been abandoned in favour of direct selling and “Pick-your-own”!• This has been aided by close proximity to Sydney and people’s growing interest in where their food comes from!
Goals & Beliefs• Remain economically sustainable!• Increase productivity & efficiency!• Maintain & improve the natural resource base!• Provide fresh, quality produce on Sydney’s doorstep!• Educate consumers about where their food comes from!
Achieved through…• Innovation and a positive attitude towards change!• Applied science & technology!• Better marketing!• Creating a ‘brand’!• Hard work! Photo: Mary Canning
A year on the orchard…• While the fruit season only last for a few months there is always something going on in the orchard!• The diversity of varieties means the orchard produces fresh fruit from January to May!• Winter and Spring provide time for a host of activities while no fruit is being produced!
Winter & Spring• Grafting new trees!• Planting!• Pruning!• Thinning!• Soil nutrient management!• Crop protection! Graft join between root stock and variety wood (scion) of a young apple tree in a nursery bed
Risks• Climate! – Hail! – Rain! – Drought!• Pests & Disease! – Apple scab! – Codling Moth! – Fruit Fly! – Fire Blight!! ! !...just to name a few!
• Effectively managing risk is just another challenge in farming!• Climatic risk is very difficult to control however the climate in Bilpin is generally reliable and safe !• Pests & diseases are controlled using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce dependency on a single means of control (eg. chemicals) !
Fruit Varieties & Root Stocks• Varieties that are popular with the consumer!• Productive, resistant to pests & disease and suited to climate!• Dwarfing rootstocks! – Easier management! – Higher productivity! – Greater resource use towards fruit production by the tree!
Trellis System• Support dwarf stock under high fruit yields!• Improve light exposure!• Canopy management for better! – Pruning! – Pest & disease management! – Harvesting!
250 trees/ha 1,500 trees/haOld plantings, large free- New Plantings on trellisesstanding trees
Soil/Nutrient Management• Key to productivity and producing quality fruit!• Maintain optimum soil pH through lime application! – Key to making all nutrients available to plants!• Maintain ground cover to prevent erosion and build organic matter! – Increases soil’s ability to hold nutrients and availability to plants!
Irrigation• Drip irrigation system! – Supplies water to root zone! – Reduces evaporation!• Satelite remote sensing! – CSIRO initiative! – Provides information for crop water requirements and scheduling! – Enhances efficiency & productivity!
Drip irrigation suspended from trellis wireLarge dam providesirrigation water for thewhole orchard
Diversification• Increases customer base and interest and helps manage risk.!• 10 apple varieties including:! – Royal Gala! – Pink Lady! – Delicious! – Granny Smith! – Jonathan!• Potatoes! – Grown for the last 3 years! – High value “gourmet” varieties!
Pick-Your-Own• P-Y-O has grown dramatically in recent years !• People often enjoy the experience of picking their own fruit as much as the fruit it self!• Parents often comment that it’s a great way to show there children where their food really comes from! – Not the supermarket!!
Marketing• Low returns per/kg and high transport and packaging costs have made wholesale markets and supermarkets unattractive!• A focus on high quality fruit and good value has built a strong customer base and this continues to increase year by year!
Marketing• This means:! – Better quality fruit for the consumer! – Lower prices than the supermarkets! – Higher returns for the farmer!• People travel for hours for fruit from Shields Orchard!
Hawkesbury Harvest• Hawkesbury Harvest is a grower organisation which aims to promote agriculture and fresh, quality food in the Sydney Basin!• Bill is the current chairman of Harvest and is passionate about seeing agriculture remain an important part of Sydney’s landscape !• He is also interested in bridging the divide between farmers and consumers through better education !
A final word…• The Shields Orchard ‘brand’ has a strong reputation and is continuing to grow!• Producing and selling quality fruit requires a great deal of technical know-how, innovation and business sense!• Bill is passionate about what he does and has no plans of giving it away any time soon!
More InformationShields Orchard• www.shieldsorchard.com• www.dairyyouthaustralia.com.au/images/AppleADay_CaseStudy.pdf• www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/harvest-boon/ 2010/02/08/1265477561433.htmlHawkesbury Harvest• www.hawkesburyharvest.com.au
WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE SPONSORS OF THE 2010 CREAM OF THE CROP COMPETITIONPLATINUM GOLD SILVER BRONZE