Producing consistently high yielding crops of quality Bramley apples year after year is an ongoing challenge for apple growers, requiring close attention to soil nutrition, disease control and other aspects of agronomy and fruit storage.
Several of these issues will be addressed at the Northern Ireland Fruit Growers (NIFGA) conference on 28 January in Armagh City Hotel. Aspects of orchard nutrition, which are reliant upon routine analysis of soil, leaf and fruitlets will be addressed by Chloe Kyle from Yara UK Ltd, while Dr Sean Mac Ant Saoir, will review the research carried out at AFBI Loughgall in recent years. Sean’s talk will summarise work which he has carried out on apples and pears including disease control, orchard planting systems, growth regulation and fruit storage.
Kieran Lavelle, CAFRE, will present the results of an agricultural European Innovation Partnership Focus Group (EIP-AGRI) which looked at ‘protecting fruit production from frost damage’. Kieran was one of 20 experts from different countries, including growers, researchers and advisers in the focus group which started work on how to protect fruit from frost damage in June 2018, with their final report delivered in November 2019. Kieran will present some key aspects which might help growers to better overcome challenges relating to frost damage.
As fruit growers are very reliant upon seasonal workers to assist with harvest, it is imperative that they ensure that procedures are in place to protect farm businesses from the risks of modern slavery, hidden labour exploitation and infiltration by human traffickers.
Subsequently David Camp, from the UK Association of Labour Providers, will give a presentation on current labour supply challenges, the impact of Brexit, collaborating to secure recruitment needs, the seasonal workers’ pilot scheme, good practice in sourcing and using labour providers, tips to attract and retain workers and secure returners.
Growers wishing to attend the NIFGA conference on 28 January, should contact secretary, Mr Dermot Morgan (07787 150512) by 17 January.