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My Harvest: Jeremy Smart, Batlow, New South Wales

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APAL talks to growers about how their harvest is shaping up, some of the main issues they’re facing and what they’re on the lookout for in the future.

Jeremy Smart runs Tingira Orchards in Kunama near Batlow, along with parents Michael and Sharon.

Tingira produces Pink Lady, Rosy Glow, Kanzi®, Red Delicious and Royal Gala apples.

In what he describes as ‘an up and down’ year, Jeremy says he’s happy with the overall quality and quantity of fruit, with the acquisition of a picking platform proving a welcome addition.

“It’s been a weird year, that’s for sure,” Jeremy said.

“We’re a bit later, reflective of everywhere I guess. We’re two weeks behind on Gala. All up we’ll probably finish picking about mid-May.

“We’re pretty much spot on with our estimates, the last five years have been pretty consistent in that way. Quality is better than last year, a little bigger if anything.

“We’re a bigger apple around here, this year we’re a bit closer to premium sizes, which is not a bad result considering it was such a wet spring.

“With labour it’s been alright, not as bad as we were anticipating. Normally we’re at about 12 staff, this year it has ebbed and flowed. We’re down to five at the moment. Sometimes we’ve put an ad out and then actually not had enough work available for everyone who has responded to it.

“We’ve purchased our first platform this year and it’s just been awesome. We’re really happy with it. We’ve found someone to drive it, which is even better, means I’m not sitting on it all day. We’re on a bit flatter ground too, which helps.”

An estimated $74 million damage was caused by bushfires to the Batlow region in 2019/20. Jeremy took several interesting bits of drone footage of the Tingira orchards around this time – one around six weeks before the fires:

and one not long after:

“It’s been a non-stop couple of years since the fires, that’s for sure,” he said.

“No-one around here has had time for a breather, pulling out trees and then putting them in, on top of all the usual stuff.

“The response has been great, the town has had a lot of airtime, I know a few growers who have been helped out with grants. But yeah, it’s been a pretty full-on couple of years.”

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