Successful walnut season for local growers

By Country News

Walnut harvest has come to an end and local growers are pleased with the results.

Katunga Walnuts owner Chris Bethell said he finished harvesting by hand on his 2 ha farm a few weeks ago.

“We do it by hand in two or three goes, we don’t have enough trees to warrant machinery,” he said.

Mr Bethell harvested about 1500 kg from 360 trees, supplying local businesses including Numurkah Bakery Cafe, Strathmerton’s Cafe 3641 and Shepparton’s Finer Fruit.

“In mid-April we started selling them, we’re pretty happy with the quality of them this year,” he said.

“We had to buy a bit more water this year because it was dry.

“You don’t want it too hot because they can get sunburnt, you keep feeding them water to get them up to size.

“Last year was a bigger crop but we got significant hail damage.”

Mr Bethell bought the property three years ago with established trees on a previous dairy farm.

Katandra Walnuts owner David Woodhouse finished harvesting at the end of April, before a period of heavy rain.

“It was very fortunate, as wet conditions when harvesting can cause discolouration of the shell; we shake them off the trees and gather them off the ground,” he said.

Mr Woodhouse harvested about four tonnes of walnuts, compared to a harvest of 1.5 tonnes last year.

“They do say in the early years you should expect about a doubling each year and we planted our trees in 2014 and got the first nuts four years ago.

“This year we worked with Goulburn Valley Walnuts in Toolamba for processing.”

Mr Woodhouse said a drier harvest period would have been more favourable as conditions this year were damp, with 140 mm of rain in April, compared to 12 mm in April last year.

“This year’s season was intriguing in relation to the water use,” he said.

“The trees became very thirsty from October/November so we bought more water shares and temporary water in January and then the rains came in, so we didn’t need to irrigate in April.”