Hansen Orchards, nestled beneath Tasmania’s Trestle Mountain, has been a family farm for four generations. Today Carl Hansen and his son, Howard, run the operation, which started as an apple orchard but in recent years has diversified into cherries.
“Tasmania has a competitive advantage when it comes to the timing of cherries as we’re set up for the counter season of the northern hemisphere,” says managing director Howard. “Between Tasmania and New Zealand we supply the world with fresh cherries in January and February.”
The cherries the Hansens produce are sold in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Their apples are less competitive internationally so most are sold in Australia. In search of new local markets, the family released Hansen Cider in 2017. “It’s going pretty well,” Howard says.
The company recently invested in state-of-the-art covering material from Germany to protect its cherries from summer rain. The cover is self-venting, so the crop doesn’t get too hot, and also has a zipper system that connects the orchards and keeps the birds out.
“Before the zip system you had to put a bird cover over the rain cover, which blocked sunlight and affected yield,” he says.
Hansen Orchards has also invested heavily in to improve labour efficiency and have new, elevated work platforms in the orchards and modern grading equipment in the packing shed.
Now that the cherry crops are well covered, Howard will focus on protecting the apple crop with hail nets to improve quality and increase yields.
“We’ve reduced risk in cherries, so next is the apples,” he says.