Picking the best for the orchard


Orchardist Jim Mullett and his family have tried three tractor brands in their Queensland business, Monduran Orchards and decided they can’t go past the compact Case IH Farmall B. Source: AFDJ eNews

“Every little thing about them ticks the box, like no other tractor has done beforehand,” said Mr Mullett

“We have 14 Farmall Bs now and are looking to increase the fleet. We also have a Farmall C on order for the more narrow rows.”

The Mulletts farm 1214 hectares at Gin Gin, some 370km north west of Brisbane. The property, “Monduran Station”, is now also home to the sixth generation — Jim’s son Alastair’s children.

One of Queensland’s largest producers of early-market citrus and one of Australia’s biggest producers of red grapefruit, the enterprise grows seedless lemons, limes and grapefruit, as well as Imperial, Murcott and Taylor-Lee mandarins.

“Most orchardists buy small tractors second-hand to pull trailers and bins for picking. But increasing buying competition from hobby farmers means you’re buying 50-year-old tractors for $10,000. For not much more, you can buy a brand new Farmall B, and it’s economically sensible to buy new,” Jim Mullett said.

“We’ve tried other tractor brands, and while we found them good, the maintenance is too much, particularly with plastic parts. We found the expense of replacing them was (a) not cheap, and (b) we had to do it regularly.

“So when we went back and looked at all the brands, we were most impressed with Case IH. With their steel bonnets, they’re built to last. The tractors came with canopies and three remotes and four-wheel drive — everything that we wanted for a price you couldn’t better anywhere. They’re not much more than a lesser-quality import and yet you’ve got a very reliable tractor.”

Peter Elias, Product Manager – Tractors for Case IH says ease of operation is often a factor in orchardists, viticulturists and small-block farmers choosing these reliable tractors whose efficiency leads to increased production.

“We find they’re so easy and their systems are very light to use. We have to keep the fruit in pristine condition, so it’s very good to be able to drop them into low range,” Mr Jim Mullett said.

“And they’re an adaptable and strong, tractor — we’ve even designed lemon-picking aids to big trailers that fit on behind our Farmall Bs, and we use them to apply herbicide at very low rates under our trees to keep the rows clean.

“We just can’t fault the Farmall B, to be honest. They’re very sound, and the simple fact is by sticking to the one brand, any maintenance is easy. We’ve had no maintenance issues, yet we’ve got other tractors with 10,000 hours that just have their third front-end rebuild.”