Will Jackson, Man of Ross, Ross-on-Wye

Currently, we use the Darwin mechanical blossom thinner annually across our Gala and Braeburn. Depending on the season, we may have to do a very small amount of hand thinning; for instance, last year in the Gala, we had clusters of five or six apples together, but it was a quick walk-through thinning process rather than standing at a tree for any duration. 
In terms of cost savings, the Darwin is about 1/20th the cost of thinning out too many apples by hand later in the season. It has saved us a lot of money. It paid for itself in year one with the reduction in hand thinning costs and is now a key part of our orchard management programme.
Being based Herefordshire, we started working with NP Seymour because they are the only dealer in the country to sell the Darwin thinner. Despite the geographical distance, the team is always on the end of the phone and have been on-hand to give advice on how to use the machine. The Darwin is reliable and is pretty simple to use, with a straightforward hydraulic motor. In the last eight years we have had no breakdowns or issues and I think we are only just about to replace the flails.