Harvest for 2018 is well and truly done, and growers are hoping for better results in the retail market this year. We have been fortunate this year with no eventful weather conditions affecting crop yields. We are only too aware of our counterparts’ devastating experiences in other states of extreme heat, hail and storms.
In WA we have seen fairly decent-sized apples harvested with sound colour development. That means there is a quite a high volume of fruit available on the local market. Unfortunately, returns prior to this season launch have not been matching production costs so developing new markets is necessary to stay in front.
As we get better at increasing production, we will need to look further than the local market and find sustainable paths to export markets and a commitment and ability to supply consistent volumes.
We are looking forward to some solid precipitation and chill over the winter months to nicely set up the 2019 season.
The Future Orchards® walk took place at Newtons’ Starkie Orchard in Manjimup attended by 39 apple and pear growers and industry representatives. Paul Good, APAL’s WA Director, provided an update on the Horticulture Award. Changes are set to increase wages and the overall cost of production. This adds further concern to an industry that is already faced with returns below the cost of production.
Guest speaker Prof Stefano Musacchi (Washington State University) told growers the way light was distributed in the tree canopy could play an important role in quality. Steve Spark (AgFirst) endorsed the fact that increased apple consumption would increase demand for high-quality fruit.
Attendees also saw a demonstration of a recently purchased Zucal apple platform system. Newtons’ staff were conveniently pruning at the time of the walk so growers saw first-hand the equipment’s functionality for pruning, thinning and picking in the orchard.
Growers Wayne Ghilarducci, Mark Wilkinson, Paul Good, Terry and Carol Martella joined the Pomewest and Bravo™ team for the Hort Connections 2018 conference in Brisbane, 18–22 June.
This event was again extremely professional and the APAL Speed Updating day was a feature for the pome industry. The information presented was a good balance of technical and market-based content, while the trade show and networking provided a great opportunity to develop and build relationships.
Terry Martella, an apple grower at Kirup, WA, won the Innovative Partner Award and Susie Murphy White, Project Manager of Pomewest, was the APAL winner for Women in Horticulture. Congratulations on two well-deserved wins go to these amazing people.