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Orchard Management


The weather in March has been unusually warm and dry, bringing dormancy to an end and causing the buds to burst.  The tree roots need optimal soil conditions to grow, so this is the time to put on fertilizer and check the acidity of the soil. Testing showed an area of the farm with an increased acidity level. The dry ground conditions allowed our contractors to spread limestone on the affected areas, which should last for several years.


Winter Chill - February 2012


IMG_9990 IMG_9884

At last we have had some snow, and proper winter temperatures. Fruit trees need a good period of cold weather to keep the buds dormant and build their strength for later. Overwintering pests are less likely to survive in cold conditions, reducing the need for expensive sprays in the summer. The frozen ground conditions are also ideal for working with heavy machinery such as hedgecutters and prunings sweepers, doing their jobs without leaving a mark on the soil. Pruning is going well, with almost half the farm now completed.


National Fruit Show 2011


Russet 1st prize large 

The National Fruit Show was held at Detling showground on the 19th - 20th October this year.

As it was our first year as Robert Mitchell Farms we decided to enter some of our fruit in the competition classes.

Surprisingly we were very successful; winning 1st prize for Egremont Russet apples and winning the heaviest apple competition with our Bramleys, one of which weighed in at 1.01 kilos. We gained 2nd prize for our cobnuts and 3rd prize for our heaviest pears.

Alex, our son, won 2nd prize in the Novice category with his Golden Delicious apple entry.

It was a very successful show; showcasing the wonderful fruit that can be produced in this country.




Russet Prize 2011Russet Displayed 2011Cobnut Prize 2011Novice Class Prize

See our harvest video for 2011

Harvest underway


img_4463The 2011 apple harvest has begun!  The first picking team has arrived on the farm and settled into the routine of picking.  Team members from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the UK are seen here picking Bramley apples with our picking trains, and Howgate Wondimg_4477er apples for the apple processing factories in Northern Ireland.  Fruit is dispatched overnight and is ready for processing later the next day.

The 2011 pear crop looks like a super heavy, high quality crop.  The fruits are swelling and sugar levels are rising.  Pears will be picked at the beginning of September.

Red Tractor - Farm Assured




Following a thorough audit by an independent assessor, Robert Mitchell Farms

has been approved as a Red Tractor Assured farm.  This is an industry-wide

standard covering every aspect of the business, from record keeping to

environmental management.

A copy of the current Certificate of Conformity can be requested by any of our

customers.  Please contact the farm office.  Our scheme membership number

is 132025.

We are currently working with Natural England and the Environment Agency

towards their Catchment Sensitive Farming programme, aimed at reducing

diffuse water pollution in the Upper Medway River.



On the small area of our farm sown to grass, haymaking was completed between the rain showers last week.  Our local contractor P.P. Broad used his huge machinery to complete the job in record time.  The crop was rather thin due to earlier drought but quality was good.  Hay will be in short supply going into next winter.




Local Newspaper - Robert Mitchell MBE



A FARMER, an Army veteran and a civil servant were among those named in the Queen's birthday honours list from the Sevenoaks district. The full list for award-winners, published over the weekend, included Robert Mitchell, a farmer from Bewley Lane, Plaxtol, who was awarded an MBE for his services to charity. PLEASED: Andrew Stott, who has received an CBE;  HONOURED: Brigadier William Dobbie;  PROUD: Plaxtol Apple grower and charity worker Robert Mitchell has just been awarded an MBE

The 52-year-old father of two was the chairman of the associated learning charity Concordia for 14 years and now owns Robert Mitchell Farms. He said: "I feel in my years there we grew, expanded and met so many incredible people. "I was absolutely honoured and proud when I heard the news last month. "It's been a real struggle to keep it a secret – I have to admit that I told my close family and we had a big party, and since everyone else found out on Saturday, there have been several more. The champagne has been flowing and I'm delighted."

The Courier - 17th June 2011

Robert Mitchell in Queen's Birthday Honours List


Apple farmer is good to the core

Apple and pear farmer Robert Mitchell, 52, from Sevenoaks, is another awarded an MBE for his services to young people.

The fruit grower became a volunteer with Corcordia, a charity which promotes international youth exchange in more than 50 countries, helping the foreign workers who picked the fruit on his farm.

He said: "It's a huge honour to be recognised in this way. It'll be an exciting learning curve for me.

"I'm just a farmer and any recognition comes from apples but this is completely different."

Speaking about his work for Concordia, Robert said: "I travelled through Eastern Europe, Poland, Russia, Bulgaria and Romania - many of those places are poorer than us.

“The thrill for me was to see young students we had helped and visit them back home. One person used the money he earned to build a brand new house for his disabled mother."


kentonline.co.uk - 11th June 2011

Planting 2011

This year we are replanting some of the areas affected by the gas pipeline, installed 2 years ago.  Now that the soil has settled it is ready for planting with the trees that have been held in cold storage for the last few weeks.  The exact planting positions are marked out and planting holes are dug by hand to ensure the perfect depth for the new trees.

The tree roots are soaked in water overnight, then the trees are carefully planted and firmed in well.  A wire guard is put around every tree to prevent rabbits eating the tender bark, then the trees are tied to the support stakes to prevent them rocking in the wind.  This allows new roots to develop rapidly as the soil temperatures increase.  The trees will be pruned and watered for the next few weeks. After 4 years of care and attention, the new orchard will begin to crop with Bramley apples and Golden Delicious pollinators to be used in our Mitchell's Apple Juice.

Plaxtol Produce Event


imgp1298The event at the Papermakers Arms, Plaxtol was very well attended.  Robert & Helen set up their stall and invited locals and visitors to try the apple juice, which was well received by everyone. 


Sales were brisk and people went away with the special promotional bags loaded with bottles.  Robert was asked to be a judge for the inter-village marmalade competition!


The next event is at Hadlow on 16 April.

Local Events



Sales of Mitchell's apple juice are progressing well.

It is available in 6 local retail outlets, and available direct from mitchellsjuice.co.uk.

Delivery is free within the TN15 post code area.


Come and try a free tasting of our apple juice at:


Plaxtol Homestyle and Produce Event at the Papermakers' Arms on Saturday 12th March 2011, 11am - 6pm.


In April, we will be taking part in the lauch of the HadLOW CARBON Initiative - which promotes local produce, on Saturday 16th April 2011, 10am - 2pm at the Old School Hall, Hadlow.



Winter pruning


Back in the autumn, the trees shed their leaves and went into dormancy.  This allows the trees to survive the cold, icy winter without damage to their delicate reproductive tissues because the fruit buds are tightly closed.


This is the ideal time for pruning, the job that occupies us for nearly five months every year.  We have two tractor-mounted pruning machines that use giant circular saws to cut and shape the trees. However most of the work is done by hand, using a variety of power-assisted cutting tools to cut through thick branches and reduce repetitive strain injury for the staff.  Working in all weathers, you can see our pruning staff working their way across every orchard as the winter progresses.  They are closely followed by the pulveriser, which chops the cut material into a fine mulch so that tractors can easily pass up the rows.


Taking just two or three minutes per tree, they certainly make it look easy but pruning is a highly skilled task.  Take out too much and the tree reacts with excessively vigorous growth; take out too little and the crop will be small and poor quality.  The trees are contained to a regulation height in order for the pickers to be able to reach every fruit from the ground, since ladders are considered too dangerous in the modern orchard.


As we race through the pruning, we are all hoping for a “Normal” season, not beginning too early and not having any sharp frosts once the trees break their dormancy.

Apple Juice Launched


 Mitchell's apple juice has now been launched. 

 You will find it at:


Wells Greengrocers, Borough Green

Ightham Farm Shop

Plaxtol Stores

Chart Farm Shop, Seal Chart

Barden Stores, Tonbridge

Bakers Farm Shop, Otford Road, Sevenoaks

J & G Fruiterers, Hadlow


Contact us for a 12 x 1 ltr case

Delivered free within the TN15 area


National Fruit Show

Partners Robert and Helen visited the National Fruit Show in October, introducing the new company to the many trade exhibitors who were present.  We actually purchased one of the new tractors on the Haynes of Maidstone stand.  Seven old David Browns were traded in against a New Holland T3030 compact fruit tractor, which now takes pride of place in our fleet. 

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