Seymour promotes use of chemical-free thinning machine

A chemical-free blossom-thinning machine that is widely used in Europe and other top fruit growing regions can dramatically reduce costs and lead to "an enormous increase in fruit size and quality".

This is the claim of Nick Seymour of Kent-based equipment supplier NP Seymour - whose UK trials on the £7,500 German mechanical thinning machine, named Darwin, showed promising results. A small-scale trial held earlier this year on 30 trees of four-year-old Cameo at Alan Firmin orchards in Kent showed that fruit from the Darwin-thinned trees was "more uniform in colour and a larger size and more advanced".

The yield was 11 per cent greater, with Darwin-thinned trees producing 13.98kg per tree and hand-thinned trees producing 12.57kg per tree. A 53 per cent saving in labour costs was also calculated.

Seymour, speaking at the National Fruit Show, urged growers to "have the courage" to try the thining machine.

He added: "I think the machine has great potential in the UK and growers that have the right plantings will reduce their costs of thinning considerably and produce a higher-quality and heavier crop."

He said other advantages of the machine include a high work rate - about 1.5ha to 2.2ha per hour - and the fact that no chemical thinning treatments are required after the trees have been mechanically thinned.

Hermann Gessler, a fruit grower from the Bodensee area, developed the patented system in the early 1990s because thinning is particularly important for newer apple cultivars that have high-flowering intensity and high fruit charge.

NARROW TRACTOR

The new Fendt 200 Vario tractor was introduced to the UK by NP Seymour at this year's National Fruit Show.

The company said the introduction marks "a new era" for specialist narrow tractors as it is the first narrow tractor with a stepless transmission, allowing stepless working speeds from 20m per hour to 40km per hour and stepless reversing.


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