Annual Orchard Care

Every orchard plot is professionally cared for & maintained

Managed Walnut Farmlands means just that: professionally managed. Chandler Orchards’ Mendoza-based team of agronomists, agricultural engineers, and experts professionally manage our investors’ orchard acreage, handling all aspects of orchard care and maintenance.

Economies of Scale

Since all our orchard fractions are located within a contiguous 5000 acre farm, centrally managed and cared for by our team, we achieve economies of scale far superior to what any individual investor could hope to achieve if they managed their orchard individually. Our centralized management system allows an investor to buy a plot the size of a small family farm yet at the same time achieve the same cost-per-acre of a large commercial orchard operation.

In fact, once all our acreage has been planted, together our owners will be the largest producer of walnuts in Argentina, accounting for a third of the province of Mendoza’s walnut harvest.

Everything Included, Nothing Left to Chance

Our orchard maintenance plan includes all products & services needed to maintain, cultivate, and harvest your orchard.
All Farm Labor Included:
  • Cleanup
  • Irrigation Maintenance
  • Adjustment of Stake Knots
  • Sucker Removal
  • Pruning
  • Field Grafts
  • Disking
  • Weed Removal
  • Harvest
All Inputs Included:
  • Drip Irrigation
  • Fertilizer
  • Micronutrients
  • Dormex
  • Herbicide
  • Ant Killer & Pesticides
  • Fuel & Utilities
Management & Compliance Included:
  • Orchard Supervision
  • Plant Pathology Controls
  • Agricultural Marketing
  • Environmental Compliance
  • Provincial Well Permits
  • Water Rights
  • Provincial Agricultural Taxes
  • County Taxes
  • Municipal Taxes

About Our Costs

Factors that influence the costs to maintain the orchard.

A small independent grower with a 40 acre (16 hectares) orchard might spend upwards of $500 per acre with the entire family working dawn-to-dusk to perform all the annual tasks that are required to maintain a walnut orchard.

Over the last decade our monthly cost to operate the orchard has fluctuated in the range of $100 USD per acre ($200 USD per hectare), a savings that is passed on to our owners. We take every measure to run the orchard as efficiently as possible.

We expect that over the long term our cost per acre will fall as we add additional acres to the orchard and achieve larger economies of scaleFor example, both a 40 acre and a 5000 acre orchard need a plant pathologist. The 5000 acre orchard will pay more per visit, but it doesn’t pay 125 times more than the 40 acre orchard.

1 Acre (½ Hectare) Plot

2019 Projected Annual Expenses
$ 1444 Per Year
  • All Farm Labor Included
  • All Inputs Included
  • Management & Compliance Included

It is important to note that the monthly expenses depend on three main factors that are outside of our control:

  1. The labor cost in the local market for both skilled (agricultural engineers, plant pathologists, etc.) and unskilled workers (permanent farm hands and seasonal staff).
  2. The cost of supplies and inputs we use each year such as diesel fuel, fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, Dormex, electricity, etc.
  3. The international exchange rate between the dollar and the Argentine peso. Since our expenses are paid in pesos, our monthly cost expressed in dollar terms is reduced when the peso weakens and increases when the peso strengthens.

Farm Labor

We include all farm labor required to maintain the orchard in optimal growing conditions.

Cleanup

In June after all post-harvest tasks have been completed, we perform annual cleanup and begin to prepare for the next season. June is one of the orchard’s most inactive months, since the trees are in dormant for the winter and pruning is not yet underway.

Annual cleanup includes a thorough cleaning of our entire orchard and facilities, including machinery, tools, warehouse, and the machine room. In the orchard we clean the orchard rows, windbreaker rows, and remove old branches or leaves that were left in the tree line.

Drip Fertigation

Irrigation Maintenance

Since no irrigation is needed in June, this is a month dedicated to clean, inspect, maintain, and tidy up the irrigation system throughout the orchard. Every hose is visually inspected, lined up properly and replaced if warranted. The entire system is then cleaned internally by pumping a product called AntiBlock through each irrigation circuit to remove any salts or minerals that may have accumulated in the interiors of the hoses.

Adjustment of Stake Knots

Every year during September and October we revise all the immature trees in the orchard and retie these trees to their stakes with new knots. Each immature tree is tied to its stake with one or two knots to keep it growing vertically. The position of these knots is adjusted up or down each year to accommodate the growth of the tree from the previous season.

Once the trees have matured the stakes and knots are removed and the trees are supported by their own trunk and root system.

Sucker Removal

In October and December we examine every tree in the orchard for suckers and watersprouts that need to be removed. Sprouts that appear on the tree’s rootstock - below the graftline - are always removed.

It never makes sense to allow sprouts to develop on the rootstock since they will compete with the Chandler and reduce the vigor of sprouts higher up on the tree that could become productive. The root system of a tree can only maintain a certain number of branches, so branches that are destined to become unproductive are always removed.

Pruning

During July, August, and September every tree in the orchard is visually inspected and pruned using the Central Leader System. Pruning is only done in the tree’s dormant months.

Central Leader Pruning System

Field Grafts

Every year in October we perform grafts in the field to replace Chandler trees that have become unviable. In most cases the root system is healthy and the agronomist determines that it should be reused. In these cases the Chandler tree is removed from the rootstock and a new Chandler scion is grafted to the existing rootstock.

Since the root system is already vigorous and has grown for several years, the growth of a field-grafted Chandler on existing rootstock is extremely fast. With strong roots, in a single season the new Chandler will enter into production. Grafting a new plant onto existing rootstock is in no way “starting from scratch”. Only in very rare cases does an entire plant, roots and all, need to be removed and replaced.

Disking

During December through April we use a tractor-mounted disc harrow to chop up weeds between rows. The disc harrow is a farm implement with many carbon steel discs that we use to pulverize weeds as it passes between orchard rows.

Weed Removal

During the three spring months, (September, October, November) we use a tractor-mounted rotary weeder to keep grass and weeds to a minimum.

Our rotary weeders are 10.5 ft. (3.25 m) wide and are used between the walnut rows. Maintaining the orchard floor completely clear also helps to keep rodents and other vertebrates at bay.

Harvest

The yearly management fee includes all costs required to carry out the annual harvest. This includes:

  1. Collecting the walnuts
  2. Dehulling
  3. Cleaning
  4. Drying
  5. Weighing
  6. Cataloging
  7. Grading

The harvest is the most active period in the orchard, with additional seasonal workers complementing our permanent staff.

Supplies & Inputs

We include all farm supplies and inputs required to cultivate walnut trees — no expense is spared.

Drip Irrigation

Walnut trees require 50 inches (1260 mm) of water per year, with most water delivered in the summer months. Since Mendoza’s natural rainfall of 8.6 inches per year (220 mm) cannot satisfy the needs of our orchard, we satisfy our trees’ water needs through a sophisticated drip irrigation system.

Our irrigation system has multiple circuits, but functions as a single integrated system. This allows us to irrigate any section of the orchard from any of our 5 different wells and protects our trees from the effects of a single (or even multiple) pump failures.

We use a modern 2-hose irrigation system which applies water to a larger surface area than a single-hose system. This system better simulates natural rainfall and allows the walnut tree’s extensive root system to absorb water more evenly.

A 2-hose system also means redundancy. Even though the hoses are inspected regularly, should any individual hose suffer a leak, the trees will continue to be irrigated from the second hose.

Monthly Irrigation Plan
Southern Hemisphere
Season
Month Monthly Irrigation
Snowflake Winter June Rainfall Only
July Rainfall Only
August 3.5 in. (90 mm.)
Flower Spring September 4.75 in. (120 mm.)
October 4.75 in. (120 mm.)
November 7 in. (180 mm.)
Sun Summer December 7 in. (180 mm.)
January 7 in. (180 mm.)
February 7 in. (180 mm.)
Leaf Autumn March 4.75 in. (120 mm.)
April 4.75 in. (120 mm.)
May Rainfall Only

Fertilizers & Micronutrients

Fertilizer is applied to the orchard from October to April. Chandler Orchards fertilizes through fertigation. Water-soluble fertilizer is injected into the irrigation system and delivered to the orchard while irrigating. The principal fertilizers and micronutrients applied:

  • NPK
    • Nitrogen (N)
    • Phosphorus (P2O5)
    • Potassium (K2O)
  • Liquid Kelp Concentrate (Kelpak)
  • Boron (B)
  • Zinc (Zn)

Fertigation has several advantages over traditional surface application of fertilizers:

  1. Nutrient absorption is increased.
  2. Precise quantities of fertilizer are used, reducing costs.
  3. Nutrients are applied at the exact time and rate needed for maximum effect.
  4. Reduced risk of soil-borne diseases.

While fertigation requires a larger up-front investment in the irrigation system, we believe the benefits fully justify this capital investment. 100% of our orchard’s acreage is connected to our central fertigation system.

Dormex

During September we apply Dormex, a plant growth accelerant, to the orchard to stimulate bud development. This increases the overall yield at harvest time. In an abnormally warm season, Dormex will even offset some of the chill hours required, allowing for a larger harvest than otherwise would have been possible.

Herbicide

Beginning in September we spray herbicides bimonthly until March. Herbicides are then suspended for the entirety of the harvest to avoid any contact with the nuts and we do not resume use again until the end of the winter. We maintain strict control of the orchard floor and do not allow weeds or cover crops to compete with the Chandler trees for water or nutrients.

Ant Killer & Pesticides

During the critical months of October and November we are especially vigilant about ants and other pests. We apply Clap and Formidor to remove any ant colonies that may have formed in the orchard before they can become a threat.

Fuel & Utilities

Modern agriculture is essentially the transformation of energy into food. An orchard is no exception to that rule. One of the largest expenses in our orchard is energy. We need diesel fuel for our tractors and electricity to power the pumping stations that lift the water from our wells.

Management & Compliance

Supervision and management by professionals. Compliance with all rules & regulations. 

Orchard Supervision

Supervision and management includes the salaries of orchard supervisors, agronomists, and other professionals that are responsible for the success of the orchard.

Plant Pathology Controls

Plant pathologists inspect the entire orchard three times annually in November, December, and February. We apply fungicides and pesticides to each tree in the orchard as indicated by the pathologist.

Agricultural Marketing

Chandler Orchards handles everything required to move the annual harvest from the orchard to the consumer. The work begins long before the end of the harvest. We have relationships with buyers in Argentina’s domestic market as well as internationally. As our buyers begin to place orders we prepare the walnuts according to each buyer’s need.

When walnuts are to be exported, we obtain and pay for the required phytosanitary certificates according to the destination market, pay the freight, sales tax, value added taxes, and customs duty resulting from the sale of the annual harvest.

Environmental Compliance

We obtain all permits necessary for the herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, growth accelerants, and all other chemicals used in the orchard. We strictly comply with all national and provincial environmental regulations. At Chandler Orchards, environmental responsibility is a core value of our organization.

Provincial Well Permits​ & Water Rights

Mendoza’s system of aqueducts are what allow a desert province to be one of Argentina’s largest agricultural producers. Mendoza carefully manages water supply to maintain its aquifers in equilibrium. We have already obtained all the necessary permits for our wells and make annual payment for the water rights on behalf of our investors.

Provincial, County, & Municipal Taxes

Included in our annual budget is payment of all provincial, county, and municipal agricultural taxes. The only tax we do not pay on behalf of investors is income tax. Chandler Orchards’ investors can rest easy knowing that all their tax obligations are handled on their behalf.

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