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The English Apple Man


25th Mar 2022 - Spring is in the air!

With Spring in the air and fruit bud advancing daily, The English Apple Man enjoys a machinery open day and takes a look at fruit bud development.


On Thursday this week, The EAM joined visitors at NP Seymour for their OPEN DAY where a wide display of tractors and machinery designed to feed the needs of Fruit & Viticulture Industries + representatives of manufacturers eager to answer questions from the growers present.


From: NP Seymour Website:


"Welcome to the UK's leading specialist tractor and machinery dealership, NP Seymour.




Started by Nick and Barbara Seymour in 1974, our family-run business is today headed up by the second-generation, Claire Seymour, who remains dedicated to helping fruit farmers, hop growers, packhouse managers, vineyard owners and winemakers with all their equipment needs"


"Based just outside Goudhurst, Kent, our purpose-built site, Avon Works, is a hub of activity, complete with sales showroom, extensive parts stores and a busy workshop. Over the last 45 years, we've proudly developed relationships with leading manufacturers from around the world to bring our horticultural and viticultural customers the very best machinery solutions"



The English Apple Man has known Nick Seymour for circa 40+ years when he was the aspiring young engineer we fruit growers turned to for servicing our tractors and associated machinery. Very quickly he became "the new kid on the block" and when he moved from his small workshop in Goudhurst to the present AVON works he rapidly became the centre of development for new, innovative equipment and his keen eye for identifying what modifications would deliver "bespoke" versions of the essential tools for fruit, hops and more recently specialist machinery for viticulture.


I well remember in my days as an apple grower, (now more than 30 years ago) Nick introduced new more accurate Albuz sprayer nozzles allowing much more precise application of essential crop protection materials. Nick was always quick to identify and embrace new machinery technology emerging on the continent.


From the NP Seymour Website:


"Renowned for reliability and innovation, our range of tractors, sprayers, mowers, cultivation equipment and more ensures that farmers and growers of specialist, high value crops can produce the best quality and yield, in the most efficient way, year-on-year.


Cementing the link between crop and consumer, we also provide modern, efficient grading and packing solutions for packhouses and the state-of-the-art winemaking equipment we supply is used by many leading English wine producers"


The English Apple Man Comments:


Producing fruit has changed dramatically during my 60+ years in the industry. Back then herbicides were unknown to me and our control of weeds relied on mowers and around the tree base, a 'bagging hook or a scythe' - for a young man, the emergence of herbicides (weed killers) was a revelation. Over the years many cultivation systems emerged; initially herbicides might just be a square beneath the tree (bush trees planted on a square plant system 15 - 18ft apart). More intensive systems; Spindle-bush with a strip of herbicide underneath. Today hedgerow systems (super-spindles) with a narrow herbicide strip and mown alleyways.


In the 1980's some advisors advocated total weed control, with no grass or weeds present; this designed to reduce competition from weeds/grass to a minimum. It didn't last long.


With the gradual (mandatory) removal of herbicides, growers have a limited "herbicide armoury" and the ongoing development of cultivation equipment made possible by 'sensor technology' allows precision cultivation in orchards and vineyards.


So cultivation is 'the new kid on the block' -


At the open day The EAM discussed the equipment available from two suppliers. CLEMENS and BRAUN


Below: left; Paul Tuteirihia - Sales & Technical support Clemens. right; the flail machine used for removing material around the base of vines



Click on CLEMENS Technologies for more information.




Below: left; Tobias Spiel from Braun and right; one of the Braun cultivators



Click on BRAUN for more information


Moving away from cultivation, I have a weakness for tractors, especially FENDT tractors; my passion goes back more than 35 years when I bought a Fendt from Nick, it was a demonstration model and I paid circa £12,500 for it "Best Tractor I ever owned and today FENDT is well established as the 'dream tractor' for most fruit and grape growers.


Today a specialist Vineyard or Fruit Fendt will cost in the region of £75,000 depending on specification/.


Below: Jason Hoare - Retail Manager - FENDT UK with left; Fendt Vineyard & right Fendt Fruit



Below: FENDT Tractor line up



Click on FENDT Tractors for more information.


Walking around the machinery on display, I spent some time discussing orchard mowers. The PERFECT range are widely used today, but I could not help reflecting (showing my age!) on my experiences from the age of 16 when I left school to join Dad on our family fruit farm in West Kent. I spent many summers mowing our orchards; first with 'gang mowers' - de rigueur in those days, before being replaced by the Hayter mower, efficient but not as nice a finish as the Gang Mowers!


Below: left; PERFECT mowers and right; this Table top strawberry sprayer (in action) is a standard model



Below: left and right; Nick has responded to the request from growers for a sprayer with the capability to reach plants where the growth extends lower from the table



In development - Nick's latest creation; an applicator for spreading predatorial insects onto strawberry table tops


The ongoing development of predators to control pests in fruit crops has become quite sophisticated in recent years. Initially growers would place predators on the plants by hand, then application by machine raised the level and reduced the time/cost of application.


Apparently some species of predators are more active when being transferred to the plants and can block the application pipes, so Nick has developed a system where the predators are chilled before loading the hopper, which makes them more passive and easier to apply.


The hopper will be insulated to maintain a temperature below which the Phytoseiulus used to control Red Spider Mite are active.












Last on my list was a visit to AGROFROST the suppliers of frost protection equipment, where Patrik Stynen from Agrofrost updated me on the latest 'frostbuster' - On display their top model the trailed Frostbuster, F501



As our climate becomes more erratic, and generally blossom time is much earlier than it was 50 years ago, the risk of frost has become more widespread. Most farms will have natural frost pockets and the Frostbuster which can cover around 8 hectares is an ideal defence for those areas.


How does it work? Instead of warming up the atmosphere, it uses phase transition to protect orchards and vineyards. In a few words; by controlling the ice forming and by recuperating the energy that is liberated when vapour changes into ice, it provides an excellent protection with a minimum of input of energy.


Click on AGROFROST for more information






The English Apple Man SUMMARY


A most enjoyable afternoon at NP Seymour Open Day. Lots of interesting machinery and representatives of manufacturers present enhanced the transfer of knowledge - sitting eating a hog roast bap, washed down with an ale while in conversation with old friends, and under sunny skies, and listening to Nick & Barbara's fairground organ in the background, was very relaxing!


Click on NP Seymour for more information!




As mentioned, spring has sprung and fruit buds are on the move!


Below in my garden: 1. Bladon Pippin. 2. Christmas Pippin. 3. Red Devil. 4. Red Windsor.



Well, that's all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man