MW DE WET AND SONS
In 1979 Marthinus de Wet and wife Anette bought the family farm from Marthinus’ father in Palmietfontein. Trading as MW de Wet Farming we started farming with a variety of fruit and vegetables in Polokwane.
By 2003 Marthinus’ two sons Louis and Kobus joined the family business, and the agribusiness evolved to MW de Wet and Sons. We specialised mainly in tomatoes and bought a farm in Waterpoort for winter production of this produce, as well as for the expansion of Bell peppers and sweet melons.
By 2013 Marlo Farms had expanded so much so that new land was bought in Naboomspruit (Mookgopong) to increase our ability to produce fruit and vegetable all year round. Implementing strict quality control and hygiene measures at each of these establishments has led to Marlo Farms delivering a high standard of produce to the consumer.
We are in a joint venture with farms in the surrounding area to supply cabbages throughout the year, as well as a partnership with Minnaar Farming, to produce Minlo Mushrooms.
We also farm two varieties of Roma tomatoes, which we supply all year round, and Bell peppers in four colours – green, yellow, orange and red. These Bell peppers are also grown all year round. We produce some of the best melons in South Africa, specialising in green melon – honeydew melons; and orange melon – otherwise known as spanspek or cantaloupe.
To add to the list of our fresh fruit produce is the new four cultivar range of apples we mastered in 2017. We can proudly state that Marlo Apples are the first and freshest apples of the apple season. Our apple orchards planted a few years ago, are situated on the Palmietfontein and Naboomspruit farms where harvesting takes place from the end of November annually.
On the summer farms – Palmietfontein and Bochum, we farm tomatoes and peppers and planting commence in August to November with the peak harvest time starting from end November to May. On the winter farm – Waterpoort, we farm the sweet melons in the summer until May. In January we start planting tomatoes and peppers for harvesting in the winter months, ensuring year-round delivery.
At MW de Wet and Sons we do ongoing trials on the land with different varieties of each crop to ascertain if there are any new ranges that either produce a better yield or bear better fruit for our region and temperature. It is important for us to evolve as nature evolves to remain one of the top suppliers of fresh fruit and vegetables in the South African market.
THE POWERHOUSE OF
MW DE WET AND SONS
This division is the most labour intensive unit – in high season MW de Wet and Sons have 900 staff working on four different farms. 310 are permanent workers while the balance is seasonal staff from surrounding communities, working during the harvesting season.
Although we strive to implement the latest technology that improves many areas of our production, we still depend heavily on the hard-working hands of our staff. We cannot replace the human element in our operation, as this form of meticulous sowing, careful harvesting, and high standards of quality control, render superior results.
We follow a six-month skills development programme that upskills a group of workers at a time on pack house skills, while a plant development course is also implemented. This four-year course teaches the basics of plant and farming skills, learning the fundamentals of what a plant needs to grow and develop; and after passing the necessary exams, learners qualify with a diploma.
We further supply ongoing training throughout the year for health and safety awareness, computer skills and the use of equipment like forklifts and tractors.
NO COMPROMISE ON QUALITY AT
MW DE WET AND SONS
With our years of experience in growing fruit and vegetables in South Africa, we do not compromise on delivering the freshest produce. We do not make use of any harmful chemicals that could be detrimental to the quality of our yield. Our produce is tested on a regular basis to validate that we have used the correct amount of pesticides that are not harmful to the produce or public.
With each new season, we send samples of our produce to laboratories around the country to ensure we administer the perfect amount of fertiliser needed by the soil and the plants. Based on these recommendations given to us by the scientists we use a combination of organic and commercial fertilisers, and follow their guidelines carefully. Making use of tensiometers – a measuring instrument that calculates the amount of water found in soil, we can correctly water our land without giving too little or too much.
Produce grown at MW de Wet and Sons are carefully tended to by our workers. When the time is right, they take the greatest care in harvesting the fruit and vegetables to ensure minimal bruising and damage to the produce.
BY MARLO FARMS
We grow two varieties of Roma tomatoes, also known as Jam tomatoes. Grown under shade nets with drip irrigation on the summer farms - Palmietfontien and Bochum, from August until November. These plantations are protected from the harsh elements before they are ready to be harvested at the end of November through to May. For winter production planting is done on the Waterpoort farm due to the extreme heat even during the cooler months. Here planting of tomatoes begins later in the season – February – and are harvested from June until November. The growing of these tomatoes is spread across the three pieces of land to limit the risk of any diseases being spread, as well as to ensure sustainable supply to the different markets and buyers.
These plants endure three months of precise growing, by using the correct fertiliser and making use of drip irrigation. Beehives are hired to encourage pollination of the plant which leads to it bearing fruit. After that, seasonal workers, who are trained to harvest the tomatoes at the correct stage and ripeness, pick the vegetable by hand and take it to the Packhouse in Polokwane. Here the tomatoes get graded by a Compact Machine, imported from New Zealand, according to their different sizes and colours. This tomato packing machine takes 12 photos per tomato and decides in which size and colour category it falls in.
We make use of an automated Packing and Bagging Machine that has helped largely in improving the quality and look of our produce reaching the market. During the peak season, tomatoes are delivered to popular markets on a daily basis.
Only the best quality Roma tomatoes are sent to market - the produce that is of substandard is sold at a lower price from the farm to smaller community vendors. Invariably these tomatoes are made into sauces and sold locally.
Bell peppers are grown under shade nets, to protect them from the elements, or in temperature controlled greenhouses. Peppers are planted on the summer farms - Palmietfontien and Bochum from August until November and grow for about three months before they are ready to be harvested at the end of November through to May. For winter production planting is done on the Waterpoort land due to the extreme heat even during the cooler months. Here planting of peppers begin later in the season - February - and are harvested from June until November.
We grow four different varieties – green, yellow, orange and red. Each colour variety is grown in a different greenhouse.
These plants endure three months of precise growing, by using the correct fertiliser and making use of drip irrigation. Beehives are hired to encourage pollination of the plant which leads to it bearing fruit. While in the greenhouses these Bell peppers are cared for by staff who are trained to harvest them at the correct stage and ripeness. They are then harvested by hand and get taken to the Packhouse in Polokwane. Here they get sorted by workers according to shape, colour and size and get packed either in 5kg boxes or bags - 3 colours per bag. Any deformed peppers are sold to the local community market at a lower price for use in soups and stews.
Currently, we are moving from soil planting to growing our Bell peppers hydroponically, in bags in the greenhouses. Some of the benefits of growing hydroponically include; better results in growing with a higher yield, cost-effectiveness and water-wise.
Minlo Mushrooms is a joint venture between Marlo Farms and Minnaar Farming.
Mushrooms are very sensitive to temperature changes and must be grown in the correct conditions depending on the growing stage. Due to this, the first high-tech mushroom plant was constructed on the Palmietfontein farm in 2017. Here three varieties are cultivated – white and brown button mushrooms, and large braai mushrooms. Towards the end of 2017, a compost plant was constructed to keep up with the demand of fertiliser needed to ensure the freshest mushrooms all year round.
Minlo Mushrooms are grown from spawn under stringent laboratory conditions and harvested in a sterilised and quality controlled environment. Only trained staff may enter the plant, and strict hygiene practices are followed. These mushrooms are hand-picked, cleaned with an air gun, packed and wrapped on site. From there they are distributed on the same day to small and large retail outlets.
We are in a joint venture with farms in the surrounding area to produce cabbages throughout the year.
Seedlings grow for six weeks in the seedling nursery before it is planted in the fields. Tended to by workers on the land, these cabbages receive the correct amount of fertiliser and drip irrigation to deliver delicious quality and a great quantity of this vegetable.
Depending on the season, 70 to 100 days later, the cabbages are hand-picked, cleaned and graded according to size before heading off to the markets.
BY MARLO FARMS
A vision to supply the market with the first and freshest apples of the season was born in 2015 with the farming of apples on Palmietfontien and the expansion of more orchards in Naboomspruit. A new variety of ‘Afri Apples’, developed by ‘Culdevo’ that grows wonderfully in our environment, has enabled us to harvest the first apples of the season. This ‘low chill’ variety does not have the same chilling requirements as other varieties mostly grown in the Cape.
After four years of growth, the first harvest commenced in December 2017 where about 100 workers descended upon the orchards. Marlo Apples are hand-picked by staff who have been trained to perfectly pick this fruit without causing damage to it, and carefully stacked in carrying pouches. These unique, front-facing pouches are worn by the picker who fills the pouch and then unload the harvested apples into crates. The pouches are opened with hooks on either side, opening the bottom of the pouch for the apples to gently roll into the containers to prevent bruising, before being transported to the packing house. It is then cooled to a certain temperature before getting packed by the packing machine, which is set to a low speed to prevent any damage to the fruit. After that, it is packed in boxes or bags according to size, and taken back to the cool room before going to the markets.
The Packing Machine and Apple Grader will see the exponential growth of Marlo Apples in 2018. These pieces of equipment are specially developed for apple packing and ensure minimal damage to the fruit.
Marlo Apples have four different varieties: ‘Blush’, ‘Glow’, ‘Rose’ and ‘Star’ and while the use of hired bee hives encourages pollination of these new cultivars, we create a sustainable environment to keep producing these ‘fashionably early’ apples.
Our sweet melons are only grown on the Waterpoort farm; this farm reaches temperatures of up to 40°C during the summer months. The melon plant likes the dry heat with little rain and thrives in these temperatures. Due to this South Africa produces some of the best melons in the world.
These melons grow for 85 to 93 days before harvesting commenced, which takes place from October to May. This hardy fruit is grown in full exposure to the elements and receives drip irrigation. Through thorough testing, we ensure to give the melons the correct amount of fertiliser resulting in the best quality fruit. The produce is also tested regularly at different laboratories around the country to ensure healthy fruit with no diseases or the use of any pesticides that could be harmful to people. These melons are graded according to size and quality, and any substandard fruit is used as livestock feed.
We farm two varieties: green melons – honeydew melons; and orange melons – cantaloupe or spanspek – as known in South Africa. Once these sweet melons are harvested, they are transported via truck to the Packhouse where they are quality controlled and packed for various orders.