Aylesbury Walnuts – one of New Zealand’s largest walnut orchards with over 4,500 trees – is gearing up for an increase in production. Wyma’s post-harvest equipment was chosen over French competitors to aid the process.
Early movers to the Canterbury walnut market, Frank and Margaret Brenmuhl did their fair share of research – including hands-on research in France – to determine which equipment best suited their steady growth in production.
“Most importantly we needed customisable equipment to accommodate for our growth in production. We also needed something that would stand the test of time. The road to full capacity for a walnut orchard is a long one,” says Frank.
The Brenmuhls interest in the walnut industry grew from Margaret’s passion for trees and their desire to break away from the early mornings of dairy farming. They bought land in 1996 with friends from Reefton and planted shelter trees in the same year, before planting their walnut trees in 1999. At the time there was huge hype in the New Zealand walnut industry, stemming from research at Lincoln University analysing the viability of walnut orchards and establishing New Zealand varieties. “Demand was outdoing supply and we (New Zealand) were importing about 500 tonne a year from China and the States,” says Frank.
17 years on and now processing between 3-4 tonne of walnuts per year, the Aylesbury Walnut line consists of a Wyma Hopper, Gooseneck Elevator and Conveyor. Frank believes this equipment has dramatically improved the laborious task of washing and sorting produce ready for sale, “After a slow start, we are really seeing progress over the last couple of years.”
Aylesbury Walnuts, situated near West Melton, is close to Wyma’s headquarters. This was not the only reason they chose to install a Wyma line. Frank researched local equipment compared to overseas equipment. “Price was much the same but we found Wyma’s equipment was better quality than the French companies.”
The ability to customise equipment was one of the most valuable assets that Wyma provided. “Our orchard has the potential to produce 80-100 tonne a year so the equipment needed to be adaptable,” says Frank. “They (Wyma) have been excellent. We put forward an idea and they delivered – can’t ask for better really.”
Maria Tiede – daughter of Frank and Margaret – holds her Masters in Technology so understandably she took an interest in the planning stages of the processing line. She was impressed with the quality and robustness of the equipment. “They (Wyma) thought about the finer details unlike some competitor products I have seen. Right down to the edges of the conveying inspection table which has smooth edges to rest forearms for long periods during inspection,” says Maria.
“Wyma’s knowledge certainly helped us to customise a line specific to walnuts. Their experience showed when it came to selecting cleat size, hopper design and movement of produce through the line.” Wyma also had to meet a unique request from Frank; the conveyor had to be able to run at “wife speed”- slow enough for Margaret to be able to sort the walnuts by herself at the belt if necessary.
Maria’s interest in Wyma led her to request a tour through the factory in 2012 and after meeting with the Engineering Manager Peter Knotts, the tour ultimately led to a job as a Wyma Design Engineer. “With her background, I knew she would fit in well here.” says Peter.
Maria too has her own walnut orchard which is in its early stages of growth. She plans to use the Wyma line to process her walnuts as production increases. Maria believes employment at Wyma has given her exposure to large, international processing lines and other competitor products out there. “With that experience I look forward to working with my parents to develop our line further as the trees mature.”