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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”