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My Harvest: Alex Turnbull, Turnbull Brothers Orchards, Victoria

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Alex, Phil and Chris Turnbull. Credit: Modi Apples

It’s close to home this week for My Harvest, with the focus on Turnbull Brothers Orchards which is run by Alex Turnbull, brother of APAL CEO Phil.

Alex is a fifth-generation grower at Ardmona, in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley. As well as growing Granny Smith, varieties sold as Pink Lady, Modi® and Gala, Turnbull Orchards grows William and Packham pears, and cherries.

The orchard has been in the family since 1892, on the appropriately named Turnbull Lane, with Alex and brother Chris the current custodians.

Despite a last minute hold up due to rain, Alex said quality had been good this year.

“We’re really happy with how the season has gone,” he said.

“We just finished up last week or so. The rain a couple of weeks ago didn’t do too much for us, I think we only had about 90 bins to go at that point.

“Everything coloured really well, the weather was great for that. It was a little bit cooler through March and April from memory.

“Size was a bit harder to come by, and in terms of volume we were down, yields for Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples are down.

“That’s pretty normal across the Goulburn Valley though, and quality and size are really good this year so we’re very happy.

“In terms of pears, volumes were just average.

“It was really windy in December and January, and we had a lot of skin damaged fruit. We were still able to ship a lot of our Williams pears into the market, and for some reason the Packhams were quite clean as well.

“We had about 50 workers through the Seasonal Workers Programme from Samoa, who were just unbelievable. They’d be doing 250 bins a day, and super polite and friendly people.

“So overall really happy.”

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