Hadlow Estate’s apple and pear harvest has been overseen this year by newly promoted fruit foreman Lewis Moullin.
Lewis, who earned his promotion in May 2023, has been working in agriculture since he left school 17 years ago.
Starting on a small fruit farm at Matfield, near Tunbridge Wells, Lewis switched to self-employed agricultural work after a couple of years and carried out farm contract work all over Kent.
After a spell as a demonstrator and product specialist at a John Deere machinery dealership, he started work with Hadlow’s farm contractors, Velcourt, in 2016.
Lewis said: “Now my main responsibilities are looking after the orchards all-year-round and the staff we have working in them. That includes taking control of the pruning, thinning, irrigation, spraying and the all-important picking season.”
Nigel Gibb, farm manager for Velcourt, said Lewis had made an excellent start in the job and was enjoying having more contact with staff and a greater variety of work, after his arable role.
Apple and pear production is measured in bins – the containers in which the picked fruit is stored and kept cool and fresh. The weight of apples or pears in each bin depends on the variety, with larger fruit leaving more air space in each bin.
Despite challenging weather conditions, the farm still had a good harvest of over 8,647.5 bins. It would have been even higher had the farm not been in the process of replacing a Bramley orchard and waiting for a young Gala orchard, which was planted last year, to come into full production.
Nigel said: “We had a very cold start to flowering this year so the bees were in the hives rather than in the orchard and we had a lot of rain through the flowering time.”
The harvest is now complete at Hadlow with around 6,000 bins of fruit still in store and regular deliveries to the nearby packhouse, Adrian Scripps Ltd.
Hadlow Estate owner Kate Teacher said: “There were challenges, but we got a lot of fruit picked, much of which has already gone straight to the supermarkets and processing for people to enjoy.”
Supermarket customers buying Gala eating apples, Bramleys for cooking and Conference pears should look for the Hadlow name on the bag.