Two New South Wales apple growing regions, Batlow and Orange, are reporting good quality and an increase in yields for this year’s harvest, but despite fantastic crops and their nutritional value, national consumption of apples is flatlining.
Owner of Batlow apples Greg Mouat said despite a hot summer in January and February, this season was going really well and that the quality was better than it had been in the last few years.
”The weather has been relatively kind, with no unfortunate weather events affecting quality,” he said.
“The fruit quality is as good as I’ve ever seen it … all in all it’s a good crop. Personally there was a couple of years where we had hail damage but thankfully we got none of that this year.”
Mr Mouat said yield would be up this year, by about 15 to 20 per cent. Mr Mouat said he had been speaking with other apple growers from Orange, and that optimism was also high in that region.
“I speak regularly to apple growers from Orange and I think there’s quite a lot of optimism amongst them,” he said.
Orange orchardist Guy Gaeta, Mirradong Orchard, recently told the Western Magazine that apples in his region were of “good size and colour.”
Despite good quality from two of the major growing regions in NSW, and the health benefits, Mr Mouat said it would be great to see the national apple consumption increase. According to the Eat for Health website, the recommended number of serves for men and women aged 19-50 years is two serves of fruit per day, although most Australian eat only about half the recommended quantity of fruit.
“Currently Australians consume 9 kilograms/head per population per year, so about 6 apples a week,” Mr Mouat said.
“Apple consumption is flatlining.. so it’s not going north or south. But we’d like to see more consumption. Apples are health foods and we should be eating more fruits from right across the board.”
Statistics from Apple and Pear Australia Ltd (APAL) reports that in 2016, there were approximately 560 levy-paying growers of apples and pears in Australia. An ongoing decline in grower numbers indicates a consolidation of the industry where smaller-scale growers are exiting the industry and medium- and large-scale growers taking over.
“If we can get people to eat just another apple or even another half an apple it’ll help increase demand, which is better results for growers all round. Just a small increase could have a significant affect,” Mr Mouat said.
He said picking on his orchard Wyola was a third of the way through, with harvest likely to finish early April.