Major Cyclone is the Apple of Medel Orchards’ Eye
Investment in new 2.8m Major Cyclone at E&B Medel Orchards improves quality and productivity, ensuring the third-generation fruit farm in Ontario retains its reputation for the next generation.
“Quality of product is dominant in everything we do. This is a complete way of life for our entire family. We love what we do and it shows in our harvested fruit products,” exclaims Bill Medel of E&B Medel Orchards in Ruthven, Ontario. The family farm started in 1961 by Bill’s parents Ernie and Katie Medel as an 18-acre peach orchard. Today the family grows apples, peaches, pears and plums on over 180-acres. Most of the produce goes to the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto with remaining fruit supplied to local markets. Bill and his wife Doris, son-in-law Jared and daughter, Melissa manage day-to-day operations alongside raising three young boys to ensure the fourth generation of the family will continue the legacy.
“We grow about 14 different apple varieties. We have our own controlled storage and packing facilities that enables us to ship quality produce year-round to our customers,” Bill explains. “Our busy time of the year begins in March when we prune the entire farm, and then from August to November, when we are harvesting.” Replacement tree stocks are grown in their own tree nursery and some of these stocks are also sold to other local growers.
Continuous improvement at the farm
Medel Orchards is an active member of Ontario Apple Growers (OAG) promoting their produce while working on research projects for the group. The family is always improving production processes and sharing their efforts with other fruit growers to support the overall progress of their industry.
“One big improvement we made recently was to invest in a new mower to maintain the grass areas in between the rows of fruit trees,” Bill continues. “The finish it leaves is so good that it has actually helped us improve our harvesting output because the fruit picking teams are able to move more freely between the tree rows.”
Bill is referring to the Major Cyclone Mower, which his team had seen displayed at a fruit and vegetable growers convention. “We were using another brand of mower, but it was never strong enough, had a belt drive and was always unreliable. The repair costs for the previous machine alone were too much. We’d need to replace the mower every three or four years, which really wasn’t the best return on investment,” explains Bill.
Local dealer Colvoy Equipment had already sold a few Cyclone mowers and were happy to give Bill some references. “The feedback was nothing but good news,” Bill relays. “In fact, most of these users were thrilled with the Major. That was good enough for us, so we ordered one and haven’t looked back since.”
Blade system delivers pristine finish
The family purchased the Major Cyclone 2.8m wide model. The 3-point-linkage deck mower has four rotors with 16 blades and a cutting height adjustment between 40mm to 200mm. It comes with a full-width rear roller to minimise scalping and the rotors are spaced 60cm apart to ensure nothing is left uncut.
“We bought the 2.8m (9-ft) version because it perfectly suited our row spacings, which includes an herb strip. Because there is a rear roller on the Major Cyclone it leaves a pristine finish and it makes our orchards look absolutely professional,” Bill raves. “We take a great pride in the image that our orchards portray for our customers, but it also gives us a sense of personal achievement.”
“No silly belt drives which are a reliability problem”
“What I really like about the Major,” enthuses Bill, “is that it doesn’t have those silly belt drives which always becomes a reliability problem. Instead, it has a heavy-duty gearbox and shaft drive. That means it’s always on full power, even when the grass is heavy. It just takes it in stride, cuts and chops the residue and leaves an absolutely perfect finish throughout the orchard.”
The blade system makes sure all material is finely shredded, increasing decomposition so nutrients return quickly back to the soil. “The grass clippings or any brush that you shred up is free nitrogen that you don’t have to apply,” Bill adds. “There’s no man-made fertilizer put on because you’ve done that.”
“My father Ernie is eighty-six years old (86); he does the mowing with the Major and he loves it,” Bill adds.
Quality build, premium components, made to last
Bill and his team were originally drawn to the Cyclone’s robust build and it still impresses. “The Cyclone is built in a very heavy-duty design using High-performance Strenx™ 700 MC structural steel and Hardox® 450 abrasion-resistant steel for the under-sole discs. It’s galvanised to EN ISO 1461:2009 specifications, so this is one that’s really going to last.”
“Our local dealer, Colvoy Equipment has been very supportive and they have a strong supply of parts in stock if we need them,” Bill commends. “But so far we’ve not had to replace anything. We are using the Cyclone six to eight months a year, so it gets a lot of use.”
“There’s hardly any maintenance on the Cyclone and it does exactly the job we ask of it. We’ve seen great performance and reliability so far and we can see this lasting us for at least ten years or more.”
“Being on a fruit farm you have quite a few pieces of different equipment. We buy new equipment every year and my absolute favourite machinery investment is without a doubt the Major Cyclone,” concludes Bill. “We highly recommend it to other growers.”