Apple grower predicts smaller harvest

Colac district apple growers are predicting a smaller harvest this season.

COLAC district apple grower Juli Farquhar says birds and cool spring weather will mean a smaller crop this year.

Ms Farquhar, who owns Gellibrand River’s Glen Loch Apple Farm, said this season would be “lighter” than last season’s bumper crop.

“It was quite cool in spring so that really inhibits pollination, and birds have been really bad this season,” she said.

“I’ve had to do a lot of netting and what I haven’t been able to net, I’ve lost those apples.

“I’m not quite sure how much I would’ve lost.”

But Ms Farquhar said she was pleased with the quality of this season’s apples.

“It hasn’t been a super hot summer, we only had that one day of 40,” she said.

“Because it’s been not a super hot summer, it’s really good for the apples and they haven’t been stressed.

“I’m looking forward to getting into it, picking and sharing them.”

Ms Farquhar grows 60 varieties of organic apples on her farm, 30 of which grow in commercial quantities.

The different varieties include gravensteins – “a really old-fashioned well-recognised apple, only around for a couple of weeks” – snow apples and Cox’s orange pippin, which has an “unusual flavour”.

“Some of the apples that look pretty ordinary and they’re a bit small, they can have fabulous flavours,” Ms Farquhar said.

“There are some apple varieties that only have a crop every second year, like the abas apples,” she said.

“We might have 30 trees of those but not one apple on them but last year they were covered.

“People don’t realise or perhaps understand that some trees will be light every year and others are extremely biennial, which means some varieties are not grown commercially because the big farmers don’t want to,” Ms Farquhar said.

Gellibrand will have an apple season launch on Sunday.

Ms Farquhar will spend her next 10 weeks picking, packing and selling apples, before starting the pruning process.

“The apples all come in at different times, I’ve got them coming in at the middle of Feb right through to May,” she said.

“My daughter helps me out with packing in the shed and I’ve got another helper that helps with the mowing.

“I actually really enjoy working in the orchard, I enjoy selling and introducing people to flavours not available widely.”

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