In 1998, Ngaire and Tony bought ten acres of bare land at West Melton near Christchurch where they have established a beautiful home and tidy attractive property. Between 2000 and 2002 they planted over 400 walnut trees. The majority of the trees are grafted Rex and Meyric types. They also planted trees called G120s, G139s, 157s, Stan and Tehama so they produce a bigger variety than most orchards.
The trees were pruned to a single leader with branches every 300mm to 600mm. Tony says that was the theory anyway but other members of the Walnut Group notice that the Sigmund’s trees have very good form and shape so we think that Tony knows what he’s doing.
The two biggest problems are frost and walnut blight. Sigmund’s don’t do anything to prevent the frost damage, but they do spray for blight from October to December.
Ngaire and Tony harvested their first walnuts (60 Kgs) in 2008. Since then they have approximately doubled their harvest each year, except 2012 and 2014 when they were hit really badly with late frosts.
At present Ngaire and Tony pick, wash, dry and bag all the walnuts themselves and send them to Cracker of a Nut (Walnuts New Zealand Co-op Ltd) in West Melton for processing
The next milestone will be a season that produces 4 tonnes of walnuts. Depending on the weather and their own energy levels of course.
The orchard and the new walnut shed have proven to be a great playground for their family and grandchildren, especially in the warm summer months.