Millions of peaches look ripe for a tip top season
THE pickers started earlier this month and early indications are pointing towards a fruitful harvest.
Pikes Creek Orchard finished picking its Snow Angel white peach variety and has moved on to the May Princess peach trees.
Pikes Creek Orchard's Graham Finlay said it was the first time the May Princess peach variety had been picked commercially.
Because the varieties get better every week starting earlier helps place us at the premium end of the market.
"We started picking on October 10 and we are now two weeks into the season," he said.
"It has been quite good growing weather except for some cold days during the first two weeks in September.
"We're now hoping for good temperatures, low humidity and very little wet weather which will be good for growing quality fruit."
Mr Finlay said Pikes Creek Orchard, south of Stanthorpe in traprock country, had a slight advantage over stone fruit orchards on the Granite Belt.
"Stanthorpe is about 300m higher than here so daytime temperatures are three to five degrees warmer than Stanthorpe averages," he said.
"Also because we are a bit further west than Stanthorpe we don't get as much cloud cover so more sunshine.
"Warmer weather and more sunshine means we can begin picking earlier which means we are a week or 10 days, so a variety, ahead."
As well as being able to begin picking earlier, Mr Finlay said the climate at Pikes Creek Orchard had other benefits.
"We aim to be at the top end of the market and we do everything from variety selection to the way we pick the fruit aimed at the premium end," he said.
"Because the varieties get better every week starting earlier helps place us at the premium end of the market.
"Our goal is to get our fruit into the outlet early in the season and have consumers buy it, get a taste for stone fruit, then come back for more a few days later.
"The quality this season has been very good with skin finishes, which means very little blemishes."
Mr Finlay said prices were sound early in the season and there was good demand for Pikes Creek Orchards' fruit.
"Last year prices were a bit ordinary because of the sheer volumes of fruit and warmer weather down in southern growing areas," he said.
"This year looks like it will be a more normal year and we are hopeful pricing will be more balanced."