Pa­tience pays off for Paton

Central and North Burnett Times - - FENCE POST -

MICHELLE Chicken and hus­band Boyd Paton are hard into the har­vest of their big­gest crop ever and with the trees grow­ing big­ger each year, the only way now is up.

How­ever, pecan pro­duc­tion isn’t for ev­ery­one as a lot of pa­tience is re­quired.

“It’s a long wait with trees tak­ing up to five years to start to bear and seven to eight years for a com­mer­cially vi­able tree,” Mr Paton said.

“How­ever, the long-term benefits are great with some or­chard plant­ing in Australia hav­ing trees over 60 years old and up to 100 years old in the US where the in­dus­try is far older and well es­tab­lished.”

When the nuts are ready to har­vest, the out­side skin of the fruit peels off leav­ing the bare nut still on the tree.

Mrs Chicken said the 2015 pecan sea­son har­vest was now well un­der­way and she ex­pected some­where around 70 tonnes of nuts.

“We usu­ally start the same week­end as An­zac Day each year,” she said.

“The nut har­vest­ing is done me­chan­i­cally in the or­chard with nuts shaken from the tree with a shaker on the back of our trac­tor and then swept into wind-rows.

“Then col­lected from the or­chard floor with the nut har­vester.

“Nuts are then sorted and graded on farm be­fore ei­ther send­ing away di­rect to our main buyer or pro­cess­ing our­selves for our own di­rect buy­ers.”

Due to the me­chan­i­cal har­vest­ing of nuts, the crop re­quires a min­i­mal work­force dur­ing the sea­son which lasts for up to eight to 10 weeks.

This year, five peo­ple are em­ployed to help with har­vest­ing and sorting.

Mr Paton said most of their em­ploy­ees were from the area and they were re­ally happy to be able to pro­vide em­ploy­ment to the town.

“Our em­ploy­ees play a ma­jor part in the sea­son for us,” he said.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

HAR­VEST TIME: When the pecan trees are shaken the trac­tor is al­most cov­ered with leaves and nuts.

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