Cherry tree planting ramping up thanks to new design

For Ross Kirk, the ability to plant more than 3000 cherry trees in a day was not enough.

So he designed a trailer planter capable of putting down 6000 trees in a day.

"[He] had the idea he could plant a little more efficiently so he came up with the [planter]," Hortinvest marketing and sales manager and Mr Kirk’s wife Sharon Kirk said.

Two workers on a platform handed trees to another sitting on a seat, who put them in the ground as the tractor moved.

"He came up with this design he had built locally. It allows people to physically put the pallets of the trees on the planter."

Another innovation was using GPS technology shared with them by John Deere, which allowed them to plant in both directions.

The Kirks’ company Hortinvest runs the development and marketing contracts for cherry orchards at Lindis Peaks Station and Mt Pisa Station in the Upper Clutha region of Central Otago.

Ross Kirk designed this planting machine which has increased planting efficiency. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Ross Kirk designed this planting machine which has increased planting efficiency. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

They also run the Tarras Cherry Corp — set to have its first crop this December.


The Kirks are also capital raisers, and after finishing the first round of a capital raise in August were able to carry out their second round of planting — getting 58,000 trees in the ground this year.

The Mt Pisa development was planted out and they hoped to soon get a start finishing the Lindis Peaks development.

They planned to start a second capital raise towards the end of this month to fund planting at the remaining 46ha at Lindis Peaks.

"Next round of funding is to get that planted and then we’ll look at building a packhouse next year," Mrs Kirk said.

Picking season for cherries runs from December to February, and Mrs Kirk said she was confident they would get enough workers — up to about 25 people to pick their Tarras Cherry Corp.

"I’m not anticipating that we will have a major problem, but for the industry as a whole it’s a very big concern getting enough pickers for the coming season."

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