Charrington walk features at BIFGA AGM

Around 85 growers attended the 26th British Independent Fruit Growers Association (BIFGA) AGM and farm walk at the 45-hectare Charrington Fruit Farms near Matfield in the High Weald of Kent last week.

Owner Alex Charrington explained that four-row beds of Cox and Egremont Russet planted in 1989 were "pretty consistent and still very productive" and indeed could be sprayed in less than half the time required for single-row formats.

"We have been using (growth regulator) Regalis. Plus for at least ten years and couldn't do without it," he added. On fruit thinning agents, "I have to judge what the market wants - whether that's volume or fruit size," he explained, but that thinning a Fuji orchard could give fruit of an "unsaleable" 85mm-plus diameter.

All except Bramleys orchards are irrigated - "the key to consistency" - with fertigation also a feature of the newest orchards, while at a more recent Zari orchard, "we are easing ourselves into growing taller", he said, adding: "Zari needs heat - it won't set fruit in cold winds."

Canker is a constant concern. The most recent field to be planted was bio-fumigated first. Charrington Fruit Farms joined LEAF Marque last year and will be audited this year.

This February's Big Farmland Bird Count yielded sightings of 23 species including cuckoos and swifts within one half-hour. Buffer strips have been created between plantings and round a reservoir, which collects runoff from buildings.

Local John Deere dealer Burden Bros Agri gave a demonstration of automatic GPS-guided tractor steering. Precision farming specialist Chris Cormac-Walshe said: "You can use it for a variety of work which we see as much the coming thing. It can also plant with 2cm accuracy. One grower found that it paid for itself within its first year."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

What is being done to develop biocontrols against orchard pests?

What is being done to develop biocontrols against orchard pests?

The SIVAL horticultural trade show in Angers, France, this week (16-18 January) heard about several initiatives to promote more environmentally sustainable orchard growing.

What does the 25-year plan mean for growers?

What does the 25-year plan mean for growers?

Published on 11 January, the Government's long-awaited 'A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment' brings together a number of policy strands into a single framework that will impact many sectors, not least fresh produce, over the coming decades.

What will 'embracing change' mean for horticulture?

What will 'embracing change' mean for horticulture?

At the Oxford Farming Conference, whose theme was "embracing change", Defra secretary Michael Gove expanded on what a post-Brexit UK agriculture and land-use policy will look like and how it will impact farmers and growers.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon