Established in 1973, Newmafruit Farms is one of the largest fruit growers and fruit packing operations in the UK, supplying all the major retailers, with a commitment to delivering quality produce with excellent service – qualities they also look for in their own suppliers.
Following a demonstration and competitive tendering process, the business recently bought eight new John Deere 5080GF 80hp fruit tractors on a John Deere Financial deal from Kent dealer Burden Bros Agri Ltd of Stockbury, with additional PowerGard Protection & Maintenance cover.
Based near Canterbury in east Kent, Newmafruit Farms Ltd and Newmafruit International Ltd manage over 526ha (1300ac) of orchard and soft fruit production, with extensive warehousing, storage and packing facilities. The company handles over 60,000 tonnes of product a year, the majority of which consists of 26 varieties of apple and six of pear, plus cherries, plums and soft fruit.
“Continuously improving our operation is a key driver for our business, whether by investment in people, facilities, equipment or processes,” says Newmafruit managing director Tony Frankham. “We’ve had maintenance problems with some of our tractors in the past, and when we decided to upgrade part of the fleet we wanted to avoid any unnecessary service and maintenance costs as far as possible. We were therefore looking for robust tractors with overall build quality and reliable service back-up from the dealer”.
“We had looked at previous John Deere tractor models, and they appeared to be good machines, but we felt that they were relatively expensive. Generally, the perception was that John Deere was more of an arable tractor, rather than designed specifically for fruit production”.
“However, there’s no point in having a cheaper tractor if the service costs are higher; you have constant problems and the after-sales service is poor – all of these things are important factors. John Deere and the dealer, Burden Bros Agri, ultimately proved that they had the right product for us, available at a competitive cost with finance, and with good, reliable dealer back-up. The PowerGard package also helped seal the deal as a means of managing our overall fleet costs more effectively.”
Altogether Newmafruit operates around 30 tractors up to 90hp. The new 5080GF models will be used mainly for spraying, as well as with front-mounted pulverisers and a new Kirkland Triprop Combi trailed sprayer/mower (as pictured). All eight tractors feature a high specification transmission, for extra durability, and two models were ordered with a front linkage and PTO (Power Take-Off) to take the farm’s existing attachments.
“We actually saw the 5080GF for the first time on static display at a BIFGA members’ meeting that we hosted last summer, just before the Fruit Focus event, where the tractor was also being demonstrated,” says Newmafruit farm manager Tim Hall. “Our initial enquiry was followed up by on-farm demonstrations using two machines supplied by Burden Bros Agri, so that we could have a closer look at the machines working in our own conditions. Once we were satisfied that John Deere was offering the best all-round tractor for our needs, we confirmed the order with delivery planned for February 2013.
“Our spraying programme runs every seven days in rotation from May to September, so the tractors are constantly on the go right through the summer, working around 1200 to 1400 hours a year. The operators often work 12 hour days without a break, so the cab is effectively their office – the tractors need to be comfortable and easy to operate, with low noise levels and high quality wheel rims and tyres.
“We’ve already established a good working relationship with Burden Bros Agri, too. Things don’t always run smoothly with machinery, so it’s important how the dealer reacts when there’s a problem. A couple of initial niggles have been dealt with very professionally, and sorted out quickly, which is what we’ve come to expect from dealing with John Deere.”