Isak Muller (59) wins Felco & Cape Agri pruning competition 2019

by | Sep 6, 2019 | News

An average of 8,000 to 15,000 cuts per day is done by a vineyard pruner in South Africa.

Felco’s main goal is to give recognition to all its pruners who have to perform this difficult but absolutely necessary task. Training of Agri Workers is our first priority.

A happy trained pruner is a great asset to any producer. Felco was the first pruning company to begin official pruning training, secateurs maintenance and pruning competitions and still do with the help and advice of viticulturists and academic institutions in the industry.

“With our first pruning training and pruning competition back in 2010 by the late icon Prof Eben Archer, we realised that there was a great need. The following year, we approached VinPro to help us with the organisation and management of these courses for the wine industry. This later gave rise to training videos and course material which greatly facilitates the producer’s task by also offering it himself according to the latest research on pruning methods in the industry. Currently, the training has expanded to all sectors. From gardening to the fruit industry, there are courses to help pruners and growers,” says Gys Liebenberg, managing director at Felco Africa.

The pruning competitions received so much attention that FELCO’s subsidiaries around the world came to attend the final pruning competition in 2018. It was then decided to hold an international competition in Switzerland next year to celebrate FELCO’s 75th anniversary. The final winners of 2019 in the respective countries will then compete in March 2020 at FELCO Switzerland to be crowned the “best vineyard pruner”.


Isak Muller (centre) of the Navada farm, Koekenaap was crowned the overall winner of the day.


2019 FELCO / Kaap Agri Pruning Competition:

There were 60 pruners competing in the final pruning competition. Heats were held in the following AgriMark regions: Vredendal, Citrusdal, Malmesbury, Darling, Franchhoek, Paarl, Wellington, Tulbagh, Worcester, Rawsonville, Durbanville, Stellenbosch, Elgin, Hermanus, Montagu, Boland Agricultural School, Stellenbosch University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology & Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute.

A total of 19 heats (competitions) were held and the three best pruners from each region were then taken to the final round which took place at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute’s farm. About 450 pruners participated in the eliminating rounds in total.

The winners of the 2019 FELCO / Kaap Agri Pruning Competition at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute Agricultural schools:

  • 1st place Schalk van Schalkwyk (Boland Landbou)
  • 2nd place Joshuan Hanekom (Boland Landbou)
  • 3rd place Jaco Wiehahn (Boland Landbou)

Intervarsity Winners of the Duellum Putatio Trophy:

  • 1st place Carel van der Merwe (Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute)
  • 2nd Place Chata Nundell (Stellenbosch University)
  • 3rd place Hein Smit (Cape Town University of Technology)

Agri Workers:

  • 1st place Isak Muller of Navada, Koekenaap
  • 2nd place Anastacia Seqoona from Oranjefontein, Darling
  • 3rd place Jacobus Muller of Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute

Isak Muller of the Navada farm, Koekenaap was crowned the overall winner of the day. He out performed all the Agri workers, Students and learners and won the following:

  • Overseas travel sponsored by FELCO to Switzerland, all costs included.
  • Participation in International Pruning Competition organized by FELCO in Les Geneveys-sur-Coffrane, Switzerland. Date: March 9-12, 2020.
  • FELCO R2 000 cash, Kaap Agri R1 000 Cash voucher, Hi-Tec jacket and Johnson’s shoes.

Isak was born in Calvinia Hospital, aged 59, married to Dina and has 5 children and 8 grandchildren. Played football for Koekenaap Rangers until Dina started giving him too many tasks around the house. Isak’s pillar is Dina, his deeply believing Christian wife at home who make sure he has a full stomach and clean and warm clothes.

He learned his pruning skills from his father Attie Muller. As a contract worker, Isak became acquainted with Johan Fourie, owner of Navada. In 2008, he permanently start working on the farm. He received much of his schooling on proper pruning practice from Gideon Engelbrecht, viticulturist at Lutzville Vineyards. Isak is currently responsible for all the pruners on the farm as well as the training of newcomers who will be pruning on the farm for the first time. He is also responsible for supervising the correct training of the young sticks.

He loves chores in the vineyard and in his spare time he always wants to spend with his family. He prefers a Felco pruner because it prunes more comfortably. Johan, the owner of Navada says that Isak from day one insisted on pruning with a FELCO scissors. If the farm didn’t want to buy one, he was prepared to buy his own FELCO. His advice is to always choose your pruning shears according to your hand size. His favourite is the FELCO 6.

The guest speakers for the day were Rosa Kruger, Independent viticulturist and recipient of the 2018 International Wine Challenge personality of the year and AJ Griesel, Director of Agriculture and Retail with Jaco Engelbrecht of Visual Viticulture as judge.



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