Apples stew: weather pips decent crop

CAERNARVON owner Bernard Hall says hot weather and bats have somewhat diminished this year’s apple crop, but the glass half full orchardist isn’t complaining.

“You get good years and you get bad years, we had a good cherry year,” Mr Hall said, with the recent rain- fall experienced in the city about a month late for most orchardists.

“It’s early days, the market, at the moment, is firm. I wouldn’t say it’s strong, but it’s a firm market for good fruit. Anything off the top, it falls away quite dramatically ... but I’m not complaining.”

Given the prospects a week ago, you can see why.

Earlier this month Orange appeared on track for its hottest summer in two decades, with the region scorching through three consecutive days of heat upward of 35 degrees Celsius, a run that’s only been experienced twice before on record.

The sweltering conditions have meant some of the apples with less protection “cooked” throughout the heatwave.

“The crop has been okay,” Mr Hall continued.

“Anything underneath permanent structure, hail netting is good. Anything under a cheaper style of netting has been cooked quite severely and anything outside the net with sunscreen has been mediocre.

“But certainly anything under the permanent structure nets has been the best by far.”

"I wouldn’t say it’s strong, but it’s a firm market for good fruit"

Mr Hall said he’s seen his fair share of bats as well around the gala, red delicious, fuji, granny smith and pink lady apples growing on his orchard.

“I’ve scared a few away,” he smiled.

“We’ve had a bit of damage, quite bit of damage on an outside row under the hail net. It’s becoming a problem. I’m going to have to put sides, even on my hail net, to try and deter them from coming in. That’s birds as well.

“It’s disappointing. There was one row there, beautiful big apples, and big money, and they’ve smashed them.”

Mr Hall said the only impact such damage will have on price will be at the pack-out stage.

“Say, normally you might get a 70 to 80 per cent pack-out, you might only get 60 per cent pack-out, tops,” he said.

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