Premium Californian walnuts grown locally in Victoria
Located in Toolamba in northern Victoria, West Prosperity Walnuts is a 50-acre farm planted with nearly 4500 walnut trees.
It’s here that Daryl Maloney McCall, the CEO and Founder, grows two varieties of walnuts - Tulare and Chandler, which are both Californian cultivars.
As a young adult, Daryl was an exchange student to the central Californian valley and lived on a walnut ranch where he learnt many of the cutting-edge Californian farming techniques for walnuts.
Walnut harvest occurs once a year in Australia around late March to mid-April. The walnuts are all mechanically harvested, using three main machines.
A shaker grasps the tree trunk and shakes the nuts from the tree.
The sweeper sweeps all the nuts into a central row. And then a harvester, towed behind a tractor, collects the nuts and deposits them into bins.
The whole process usually takes around two weeks and occurs before the colder months set in as walnut trees are dormant during winter.
Once harvested, the walnuts are delivered from the farm to a central processing plant also located in Toolamba. Here they are dried and graded before being packed for sale to wholesalers and wholesale markets. In the past, some walnuts have also been exported to China, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
Twelve growers are shareholders in the company, and then contract harvesting is undertaken for around a dozen other local Victorian walnut growers.
Guiding irrigation and spray decisions
The team at West Prosperity Walnut Farm has been using Sensing+ for just over 12 months.
Water availability is always an issue for most Australian farmers, so the team at the walnut farm use soil moisture monitoring in strategic positions around the farm, to optimise water use.
“We went from watering all blocks very much in the same manner, to being able to apply water to the areas with the most need,” said Daryl Maloney McCall.
“Additionally, we can ensure we aren’t over-watering at any stage, which can be detrimental to tree growth.”
“We also use the weather prediction capability of Sensing+ to help mainly with spray decisions. Some sprays have very tight climatic windows in which you can apply them, so understanding how big those windows will be, and when they will occur, really help us get the most out of our time at the farm,” he said.
Making life easier on the farm
The team at West Prosperity Walnuts have used the data and analytics provided by the Sensing+ solution to:
- View and optimise local growing conditions
- Save time
- Make fast confident decisions based on operational rules
- Respond to weather related risk including monitoring spray windows
- Avoid making mistakes, such as over-watering, and
- Identify onsite variations in growing conditions
The team look forward to a great season and harvest next year and to reaping further benefits from Sensing+.