Ripe on time for pickers

IT’S apple picking season across the Apple Isle and after concerns of a dry summer to follow a wetter spring, the clouds have cleared to reveal a solid season for growers.

Orchard manager at Hansen’s Derwent Valley, Wayne Trengrove, said the season has so far been a positively uneventful one.

“Because we can draw our water from the Derwent River, the drier summer hasn’t affected us too much. Our fruit size is pretty good, we’ve got good picker numbers, touch wood, but it’s been going smoothly,” Mr Trengrove said.

Hansen Orchards in the Derwent Valley have pulled their seasonal staff, around 50 apple-pickers, from the larger contingency that had worked the earlier cherry-picking season, and the deployment of picking machines along the tops was making work a lot easier for the seasoned pickers.

“We have pulled in locals from New Norfolk, as well as backpackers and a few workers from the Hobart area. They’ve usually worked the cherries beforehand, and are keen to keep picking for us through the season.”

Mr Trengrove said he was expected a “close to normal” season from their 40ha orchards, which typically produce around 3500 bins of apples that predominantly find their way into Tasmanian supermarkets, as well as supplying other domestic and international markets.

“We usually run until the second week of May and we’ve had a very run-of-the-mill season this year, so we don’t expect it to be very different,” Mr Trengrove said. “We’ve got a solid group of pickers this year, with some really good workers picking without any hiccups, so we’ve been able to bring the apples in quickly and then take a few days off to get other jobs done, it’s been smooth so far.”

Fruit Growers Tasmania CEO Peter Cornish said a steady, warm season is always good news for fruit size, colour, quantity and quality, but growers are still waiting for the demand to grow and bridge the gap with the supply available.

“It’s early days in the season so far.
“We usually peak in mid-March to mid-April but, apart from the hail some growers were hit by in the Huon late last year, conditions have been good for growing,” Mr Cornish said.

“From a national point of view, there are plenty of apples about and currently demand for apples still must recover post-Covid, so pricing is not where growers would like it to be.”