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  1. Hutchinsons Enhanced Light Interception Orchard System (HELIOS) is a ground breaking 10-year project that that consists of two trial orchards that were planted this spring, one on East Kent, and the other in Herefordshire. The project sets out to explore the question of how orchard design can be improved to capture more sunlight, and thereby increase yield, but balanced against establishment costs, and also mindful of likely future developments in mechanisation such as robotic picking and mechanical pruning.  The project leads on from work done in New Zealand by Stuart Tustin, who is based at ‘Plant and Food Research’ in Hawkes Bay. Stuart proposes that yield potential is ultimately a function of light utilisation, and that current orchard systems will always fall short of their theoretical maximum yields as they significantly fail to intercept a proportion of the available sunlight.  HELIOS seeks to evaluate his theoretical work in practice, and under UK conditions.

  2. Thanks to the launch of a new precision farming app, growers will now be able to vary crop inputs using only an iPad.

    Hutchinsons' new precision farming tool, Connect, allows users to transfer variable rate field data from the farm office to the tractor cab without the need for a memory stick, a task which many farmers find off-putting, according to precision technology Oliver Wood.

  3. The settled warm weather has allowed the crop to catch up a bit.  But bud break was underway in late April.  Certain cultivars are racing away and others are taking their time.  Overall rather than being 2-3 weeks behind last year, as we said last month, they have caught up and most crops are just 10-14 days behind 2017.  The inflorescences are being visible with full flower expected to be mid to late June or early July.