1 July, 2022
Local farm takes out mango grower award
MUTCHILBA mango producer JPK Farming were awarded the Honey Gold Grower of the Year at specialty producer Piñata Farms’ annual Honey Gold Congress.
JPK Farming is owned by Jan and Carina van Niekerk and has some 7,500 Honey Gold mango trees spread over more than 24 hectares.
They also produce other mango varieties including Kensington Pride, Keitt and R2E2s over a total of 110 hectares.
Mr van Niekerk said JPK Farming achieved a 28 per cent increase on volume in 2021-2022 compared with the previous season – a result he attributed to refined farming practices including pruning and spray timing.
Before moving to Australia, Mr van Niekerk was raised on his family’s extensive table grape and citrus farms, producing fruit for export.
The ex-pilot had no prior knowledge of producing mangoes before migrating to Australia in 2014 and buying his current Mutchilba property in 2018.
“That’s when my Honey Gold mango career started, as we went along, we wrote down everything and worked with other growers and Piñata Farms to improve our results,” he said.
“It’s about calibrating spray blowers including using the right nozzles, spraying and pruning at the right time, training people in detail, setting up procedures and taking no short cuts.
“Growing produce is definitely more challenging than working as a pilot as you’re up against the elements of nature, fluctuating market forces, dealing with market agents and consumer expectations.
But the lifestyle is very rewarding and that’s a bonus.”
Mr van Niekerk said winning the award was a major driver which motivated the entire team, in peak season, up to 50 people work at JPK Farming and Mr van Niekerk paid tribute to the efforts of his team including production manager Francis Arokiasamy.