Robert Fovargue, the agronomist for Pearce Seeds, was kind enough to invite a group of Somerset growers to meet the Hereford contractor Rob Collins who has had a lot of experience with mechanical pruning.
Robert and John Worle first showed us round several orchards with trees at different ages and pruned in different ways, including mechanically.
We were intrigued by Rob Collins’ machinery, seen above.
Growers that have tried mechanical pruning are all continuing to experiment; none of them have rejected the method in favour of solely hand pruning. It tends to be done in the summer, after eight true leaves have formed.
Hereford and Somerset do however have very different needs and it is clear that the vigour of the Hereford orchards is a great deal stronger than ours here in Somerset. With Hereford’s historical connections with hop growing and intensive horticultural production we have a lot to learn from them.
Although none of us in Somerset yet has the kit to try mechanical pruning we are keen to give it a go. Perhaps we can get Rob Collins to come down and give us a demonstration.
For an article by Rob Collins please see here
and for the YouTube video please see here