First time in Ukraine: industrial harvesting of walnuts began in the Odessa region
Industrial harvesting of walnuts has begun in the walnut garden of the VOL-NAT LLC, during which specialised walnut harvesting equipment has been used for the first time.
VOL-NAT LLC was founded in 2012 and specialises in the cultivation of walnuts. The company is a member of the Ukrainian Walnut Association and owns 91 hectares of the walnut orchard, concentrating on Lara and Fernor varieties because these varieties are known for their top quality, extra light colour, and fabulous taste. The company uses modern technology to grow the highest quality nuts to satisfy customers' needs around the world. We are selling in-shell walnuts, and most of the volume is exported to EU countries that appreciate the high quality of the product.
The company planted the orchard on its own land, which is located in Izmail district, Odessa region. The area of the orchard is 91 hectares and the planting of the garden was done in 3 stages. The concept model of the orchard and the supply of seedlings were made by the company "Linard France" (France).
The whole area of the orchard is under drip irrigation, design and supply of the equipment was implemented by "Metzerplas" (Israel). Irrigation control and fertilizer application in the garden is fully automated.
In 2017, the company "BSI" (France) designed and supplied equipment for washing and drying of nuts. This complex was launched in 2018 by joint efforts of Ukrainian and French engineers.
In 2021 the company purchased an equipment for mechanized harvesting of walnuts - shaker, production "BSI" (France) and harvester, production "Monchiero" (Italy).
At the moment, according to the owner Andrey Guk, 100 tons of walnuts have already been harvested, and in general, the collection should be about 200 tons. At the same time, the average crop yield reaches 2500 kg per hectare. The orchard is still young, and the farmer expects to receive 5 tons of walnut per hectare in two years. At the maximum level of its fruiting, the walnut orchard, according to the assurances of experts, can stay for 25-30 years, and then there is a slow decay, which can drag on for another 20-30 years. Thus, establishing and cultivating a walnut orchard is an excellent investment for the future - at least two generations ahead.
Andrey Guk came to this business model while searching for an alternative option to grain growing (which he was engaged in and continues to be engaged in now). Ukrainian Bessarabia belongs to the zone of risky agriculture. This fact forced the farmer to start looking for a more reliable crop in growing. It became a walnut.
The walnut orchard is lively: a shaker runs along the row, carefully shaking nuts from the trees. A walnut harvester follows the shaker, collecting fallen nuts. When the container is complete, the nuts are poured into the back of the truck. Upon arrival at the washing and drying workshop, the nuts are gradually fed into two washing drums. Clean fruits are sent on the conveyor to the inspection line, where the employees of the enterprise manually select the waste. High-quality fruits are sent for drying. The dried nuts are collected in bags and transported to the sizing workshop, where the fruits are sorted according to their diameter. Then they are packed in large 800 kg bags. This is already a product that is ready for sale.
"VOL-NAT" exports its products to Italy to the enterprises where healthy nut mixes are prepared from Bessarabian nuts. The farmer's price is commercial information. Let's just say that in Europe the price for high-quality varietal nuts ranges from 2-3 euros per kilogram.
Today, 21 thousand hectares of land are used for walnut orchards in the country, half of which are walnut plantations. True, they are still processed manually, but this does not prevent Ukraine from being one of the five largest nuts exporters.