The apple and pear harvest is in full swing in South Australia; growers are reporting some of the highest quality crops in at least three years. The pear harvest began in early February, with apple picking beginning in earnest on about February 20.
The Adelaide Hills produces about 80 per cent of the state’s 30,000-ton annual apple crop and 93 per cent of its 5000-ton pear crop annually.
Although apple volumes look to be down by up to 10 per cent this year, growers say the absence of widespread hailstorms that severely damaged the 2018 and 2019 had resulted in a high-quality crop. The size of the pear crop is about average.
The December 20 Cudlee Creek fire, fire burnt through 25,000 hectares of Adelaide Hills land including five apple orchards totalling 25ha in the Lenswood, Woodside, Cudlee Creek and Lobethal areas.
There are almost 1000ha of apple and pear plantings in the Adelaide Hills. Apple & Pear Growers Association of SA CEO Susie Green said the fires were just one of a number of factors for the reduced crop this season.
The national apple crop is forecast to be down across Australia this year due to a number of factors including drought in Queensland, hail in Victoria and the bushfires in SA and NSW. Hailstorms in South Australia ahead of the 2018 and 2019 harvests severely impacted quality, reducing prices for affected growers and forcing many sell their apples for juice.
The pear harvest in South Australia is likely to finish by mid-March. Apple picking will continue through April and into May, fuelled by late maturing varieties such as Pink Lady and Sundowner.