Nuts & Flower
2013 APGA AGM
2013 Damage to Pecan Orchards by Ex Cyclone Oswald
Summer Field Trip 2013 to Stahmann Farms Trawalla
Field visit to James and Janet Russell’s property near Kyogle, NSW, August 2010
Field visit at Kerry Byrne’s young orchard near Kyogle, NSW, August 2010
2010 APGA AGM – Kyogle, NSW, August 2010
Field Day at Jane & Warwick Blacker’s orchard, Hawkesbury Region
Field Day at Frank & Andrea Boyle’s orchard near Lismore NSW
Demonstration of nut-harvesting equipment
On an early June day, Owen Trevor-Jones kindly organized a demonstration of the Italian-made FACMA nut harvester. Conditions had been very wet, and as Owen’s orchard is a good way from the nearest road, the tilt-tray needed to transport the FACMA could not be guaranteed to make it. So our place, smack on the road, was it.
A dozen or so local growers attended. And the ground was very wet. Most harvesters would not have tried to pick up nuts under these conditions, made more tricky by the heavy leave-fall caused by a storm two nights previous. The machine, as pictured, is basically quite narrow, and has two sweepers out front, sweeping everything into the path of a suction pipe, about 40 cm wide. Like all harvesters, we soon found it doesn’t like sticks. All trees in the two rows being trialed had been shaken that morning, so there were plenty of sticks aground. I walked in front, picking up sticks and taking photos. When the suction pipe gets clogged, the operator can hydraulically lift up the whole front end and give it a good shake.
Everything that gets sucked up goes through two sequential chambers where air sorts the light objects from the heavy. Eventually, light objects get blown out a tube at the back under the trees, and heavier stuff gets fed into a trailer towed behind. The whole system worked extremely well, given the conditions. A trommel inside the machine had to be adapted for narrow Western Schleys by strapping small gauge fencing wire round. The FACMA can harvest just about any nut. The adaptation worked.
On a row of 20 Schleys, which I thought I had harvested reasonably thoroughly, the FACMA picked an extra 100 kilos. The same went for the next row, Mohawks, though of the two field bins filled from the FACMA trailer, about 60% turned out to be trash of one sort or another – small sticks, a few leaves, and lots of green shucks. But at $125,000, it’s an expensive solution to an never-ending problem – how to harvest pecans efficiently. It was an extremely impressive demonstration. The machine used this day was bound for Victoria where a chestnut grower was awaiting delivery. There is a smaller model, at about $80,000, and there was some interest among a couple of growers in buying shares in such a model. The trailer, which tilts, is not essential, and $5,000 or so could be saved by doing one up yourself.
Anyone interested can contact Rob Bianco at Rural Buying Machinery in Lismore.