Last of the summer fruit

Roberts Family Orchard baristas and shop assistants Tracy Gill (left) and Virginia Pine (right)...
Roberts Family Orchard baristas and shop assistants Tracy Gill (left) and Virginia Pine (right) with owner-manager Tasha Roberts show some of the last summer fruit available from their shop in Earnscleugh. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON
It has been a cracker of a summer fruit season in Central Otago.

Plenty of sun and labour brought on lots of fruit, most of which has been picked and sold.

As the autumn colours emerge and cooler days arrive most summer fruit has gone but growers are not getting a rest just yet.

Pip fruit - apples and pears - are now being picked, while stone fruit, or summer fruit, is mostly all done.

Webbs Fruit owner Simon Webb, of Cromwell, said they had good demand all season and plenty of peaches, nectarines and apricots had been on offer.

"It was pretty normal supply."

Demand tapered off towards the end of the peach and nectarine picking, which he put down to people "having fewer dollars in their pockets".

He had kept most of the same staff all season and they were a mix of backpackers, Kiwis and RSE workers.

Advertising for staff had immediately brought hundreds of responses and he felt sorry for those who had missed out, Mr Webb said.

In Roxburgh, Big Cherry orchard owner Chris Toms said the season had wrapped up pretty well.

"We had good fruit right through the season."

Staff had been easy to source and they were really lovely people, he said.

This year he had travellers from France and Italy, who were wonderful. During the picking season they employed 18-20 people for the cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums they grew.

Pruning had started and that was done by a small team. Pruning was a skilled, vital task with only select branches removed, Mr Toms said.

"Otherwise, they’ll cut all the [next season’s] fruit off."

Fruit growers were busy most of the year, despite their produce only being available in the summer, he said.

After two months’ pruning there would be a break.

"And then we’ll be back frost fighting in August," Mr Toms said.