Haygrove picking rig wins contest at show

Soft fruit grower and machinery specialist Haygrove has earned an entry into the Grower of the Year Awards 2009 after its Pic-King 5 Series picking rig beat eight other contenders to win the machinery competition at this year's Fruit Focus event - held on 23 July at East Malling, Kent.

All of the machines that entered the competition were judged on the criteria of impact on the market, sales, efficiency, innovation, cost structure, performance, safety and environment.

Judge Roger Chesher, an agricultural journalist, said: "The companies were very diverse - how do you judge a strawberry picker against some pruning shears or a sprayer? So what I did was break the judging down into a number of characteristics.

"These included (the entrants') proven performance and sale figures. Haygrove clearly has penetrated the market in which it operates.

"It's also a very safe machine and a great deal of thought has gone into user comfort and efficiency. (Haygrove has) gone into a lot of detail to ensure that the seat - which is more like a bed - is ergonomically excellent.

"It's designed to be adjustable and comfortable for everyone."

He added: "(The machine's) performance statistics are very good in terms of the amount of fruit that can be picked in an hour - and it's easy to maintain with low engine costs."

The Pic-King 5, which works in conjunction with Haygrove's Series 1, is marketed as a self-propelled rig designed to give growers a lower-cost entry point for mechanised rig harvesting of soft fruit.

It features 10 powered seats to enable pickers to position themselves relative to the fruit in front of them - and it has a hydraulic height-adjustment feature that allows pickers to be kept at the correct height regardless of rutted alleys or varying bed heights.

The competition was a close shave as Haygrove won the contest by just one point - with Micron Sprayers achieving second place.

Chesher said: "The two companies stood out - Micron is very innovative - but what gave Haygrove the edge was the fact that, at the moment, the difficulty in attaining casual labour is uppermost in people's minds.

"The machine effectively enables the grower to insulate himself from that very volatile market of casual labour and reduces variable costs. It is very topical and something to be highly desired."

As part of the prize for winning the competition, Haygrove has been entered in the Technical Product of the Year catergory at the Grower of the Year Awards. Other categories in the Edibles section at next year's awards include:

  •  Best New Variety
  •  Vegetable Grower of the Year
  •  Top Fruit Grower of the Year
  •  Salad Grower of the Year
  •  Soft Fruit Grower of the Year
  •  Prepared Fresh Produce Grower of the Year
  •  Organic Grower of the Year

ENTERING THE AWARDS

For information on how the enter the Grower of the Year Awards 2009, see www.groweroftheyear.co.uk

The deadline for entries to the awards is Friday 7 November.

The award ceremony will take place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, on Thursday 26 February.


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