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National Farmers Union Award-winners

Crop of awards are the fruits of our orchard team’s labour

Hadlow Estate is celebrating a bumper crop of prizes in a prestigious annual orchard competition run by the National Farmers Union (NFU).

It’s the second time Hadlow Place Farms have won the overall Championship Trophy in the Weald Group NFU Orchard Management Competition, previously taking the honours in 2007.

This year, Hadlow also picked up a further four trophies for achieving the highest marks in several categories, including orchard management and control of pests and diseases.

Hadlow Place Farms manager accepting award
Farm Manager Nigel Gibb accepts one of the awards from Weald Group NFU Secretary Martin Webber

Farm Manager Nigel Gibb and his team accepted the awards at a special prize giving event held at Hadlow Place Farm earlier this month, marking the 71st year of the competition.

The prize giving ceremony, which followed an orchard walk, is always held at the overall winning farm. It was attended by around 100 people, including representatives from other farms who had entered, as well as Weald Group NFU members and sponsors.

Award-winning Hadlow Place Farms team
Our winning team from L to R are: Shane Giles (Fruit Storeman), Alan Hyder (Fruit Foreman), Kevin Castle (Fruit Foreman) and Nigel Gibb (Farm Manager)

Nigel said he was delighted that the farm had been so successful – and that all the hard work done in the orchards had paid off.

He also paid tribute to agronomist Chris Lillywhite of UK crop production specialists Hutchinsons, who gives expert agronomy advice to the farm team to maximise the quality of the fruit.

“This is a very prestigious competition locally and is an excellent way of benchmarking our orchard practice against other farms,” said Nigel.

To have won the top award again, as well as four other trophies, is a great achievement and testament to all the effort every member of the team puts in.”

Hadlow Place Farms apple orchards
The Estate’s 200-acre apple and pear orchards currently produce up to 25 million pieces of high-quality fruit each year

To win the top prize, Hadlow’s operations on its 13 orchards had to go through a detailed assessment by a team of independent agronomists.

During a meticulous three-hour tour covering 70 hectares, the judges assess various factors, including the quality of the fruit and the systems that are being used for growing, as well as checking spraying records.

The presentation evening, organised by Weald Group NFU in conjunction with sponsors, UK fruit suppliers Avalon Fresh, was an opportunity for other competitors to tour some of Hadlow’s prize winning orchards and hear about its management techniques from Nigel.

Tour of Hadlow Place Farms apple orchards
Farm Manager Nigel Gibb leads a tour of the orchards

It was also a chance to celebrate the success of other winners in the different prize classes in the competition, which include best pest and disease control, and best husbandry.

The five trophies won by the Hadlow Place Farms team are:

BASF Championship Trophy – Overall winner

BASF Trophy – Greatest increase in marks from previous 

N P Seymour Trophy Class ll  – Highest marks

Norman Collett Trophy Class ll – Highest marks: Pests and diseases section

Group Secretary Award – Highest marks: Management

Martin Webber, Group Secretary of Weald Group NFU, said: “The judges were very impressed with the quality of the orchards at Hadlow. The Estate was a worthy winner.”

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