NZ’s largest orchard grader begins work
Fifty years ago Mr Howard Paynter was grading fruit by hand.
Yesterday he pushed a button to set in motion the largest fruit grader in an orchard in New Zealand.
The eight-lane PMC grader came into operation at Mr Paynter’s orchard in St George‘s Rd, Hastings, yesterday after two years of planning and building.
Mr Paynter said that only three months ago there were pear trees where the packing shed stands.
Building the new shed and installing the grader had been a great challenge to him and his son John, who is a member of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board.
Mr Howard Paynter was president of the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association in the late 1940s and helped establish the board.
Increasing production meant the Paynters had to build a new packing shed.
Mr Paynter senior began fruit growing on his own in 1926 after working for his uncle for three years.
After hand-grading into sacked bins. he graduated to a small “Lightning” hand grader and then to the first Cutler grader which served him until this season.
The new machine is a standard American design and was built in Auckland. It sizes fruit by weight.
Apples are carried in cups which are held up by springs. When the weight exceeds the amount the spring can hold the apples drop on to a belt which takes them to one of 12 rotary packing tables.
In an hour 100,000 cups pass a given point. Mr Paynter said the shed, known as Johnny Appleseed Fruit Packers, employs 30 people.
He hoped it would pack from 2500 to 3000 cartons in an eight-hour day. The old Cutler grader had 500 cartons a day put through.
The shed is being used to pack for the family orchard, Asparagus Ltd and Mr Arthur Peake‘s orchard.
The new shed and grader cost $150,000.
This season it will pack fruit from 66 hectares. This will build up to 80 hectares as young trees come into production.
Picture shows: Mr Howard Paynter at the controls of the new grader.