Fruit buyers need to look beyond the appearance of fruit this year, according to one of Bilpin's premier orchard owners, following a year of damaging hail and storms. "It's really been a very mixed year," John Galbraith, owner for the last 38 years of Pine Crest Orchard whose 15 acre orchard includes apples , peaches, plums and pears said. "I've missed damage from hail and storms, while other people in the area haven't been so lucky. "On other orchards, cherries and apricots split because there was too much rain. Splitting not only looks bad, but also causes the fruit to go off much more quickly.
"Definitely it's been a bit of a disaster for some growers." Mr Galbraith says he knows of at least one orchard owner pulling up 15 acres of apples and peaches this year because the damage had not made it worth going on. A relatively cold spring has also meant fruiting is about 10 days later than usual. There is more water in the ground too, which causes other problems. "High humidity tends to cause fungus and you have to be on top of that. It means using more fungicides to keep that down, but modern fungicides are effective and they are very safe," he said. Mr Galbraith says consumers need to look beyond perfect looking fruit and instead focus on taste and price, with prices at roadside stalls in the Bilpin area being lower for slightly damaged fruit. meat slices cutter
"What people do need to think about is, do they really always need the biggest and best fruit and vegetables? Think about the eating quality, not neccessarily how it looks." He also believes the severe flooding in Queensland will lead to some upward pressure on prices but is more likely to relate to vegetable rather than fruit crops.
"I expect to see significant price increases in the short term for vegetables. Moving forward, a lot depends on how long it takes to dry the land out and to get the next crop in. Past experience shows that the price rises are never as great as predicted but still, I expect some increases because of shortages of some vegetables."
Mr Galbraith makes the point that most fruit trees are resilient, so unless flooding has brought them down, they may not necessarily suffer too badly. "It's vegetables growing in the ground that will be the main problem. There may be some things a bit scarce for a week or so but once the ground has dried out new crops can be sown," he said. "Overall it will take a few months, I suspect, to put in a new crop and then a few months for it to grow." Pine Crest Orchard is now open for people to come and pick their own peaches, apples and plums, at 2549 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin. meat slices cutter