A SLOW start to the growing season is still having an impact for the state’s fruit growers.
Apple and Pear Growers Association of SA chief executive officer Susie Green said the harvest for this season was experiencing delays.
“It has been one of the more challenging growing seasons in a little while,” she said. “It’s running late, as most things are this year.”
As well as the delayed harvest, Ms Green said growers had to contend with flowering hold-ups, pests and hail.
She estimated there could be between 5 per cent and 10pc of the crop damaged by hail early in the season, with regional variation. The wet spring and summer also hindered access to the orchards for some growers.
“The growers have done a fantastic job to deliver, despite everything thrown at them,” she said.
Ms Green said early varieties, such as Fujis and Granny Smiths, were already picked.
“The fruit that is coming off looks good,” she said.
“The volume is probably down a bit on the past couple of years.”
She said there was some damage in parts of the crop from hail and pests.
“There might be a little more going into juicing,” she said.
Ms Green said the prices paid were also challenging growers this year.
Lenswood Co-operative chief executive officer James Walters said birds and codling moth had their impact on the fruit.
“There is some hail-affected fruit…this will reduce the available first-grade fruit,” he said.
He said the co-operative’s growers were about 40 per cent of the way through harvest, ready to begin on Pink Lady – which was looking particularly good this season.
“The colour intensity of Pink Lady is outstanding,” he said.
Mr Walters said two new varieties, Rockit and Miapple, had performed well for growers and were proving popular with consumers.
The bulk of the Lenswood apples will remain in the domestic market with 10pc to go to the United Kingdom and South East Asia.
While apples are midway through harvest, in the state’s east, citrus growers are gearing up to begin picking early next month.
Citrus Australia chief executive officer Judith Damiani said picking would begin on early mandarin and navel orange varieties within weeks, slightly behind the average time.
“We need cool overnight weather to colour the fruit and bring it to maturity,” she said. “The Riverland (yield) is expected to be up on last year.”
Ms Damiani said some SA growers had hail damage but it did not seem to have impacted tonnages. She said demand for citrus was strong, particularly in China, Japan and the Philippines.