Stonefruit growers prepare for harvest
Traprock Orchard prepares for harvest
OCTOBER is the start of stonefruit season, and Traprock Orchard is about to start harvesting delicious nectarines, peaches and plums.
Traprock Orchard is a family owned and run operation. John and Julie Pratt started the orchard in the early ’90s to diversify their sheep and wool operation.
The couple run the orchard with the help of their son Nigel and his partner Stacey Colthup.
The Pratt family’s property is at Traprock, west of Stanthorpe, on 3642ha, with the orchard taking up 30ha.
They also run 400 cows and 1600 sheep.
Traprock Orchard will start the harvest of 25,000 trees at the end of October.
“Every single piece is picked by hand. The majority of our workforce is backpackers,” Nigel said.
“We’ll start in the third or fourth week of October and continue right through up until Christmas.
“A mature tree will on average produce between 12 and 15kg of fruit.”
Nigel said the orchard had felt the brunt of the dry conditions.
“It’s been a tough season; obviously drought has been a major setback for us this year,” he said.
“It’s brought its challenges in a few forms, obviously lack of water, but also due to the dry conditions we were affected more than usual with frost events, which was detrimental to a few of our earlier crops.
“Our yields will be a lot lower than a year with abundant water, and the frost has taken a fair percentage. Our later season crops won’t
❝ The earlier fruit performs better than the later season fruit because of competition in the marketplace. — Nigel Pratt
be so negatively affected.”
Traprock Orchard supplies fruit to local shops as well as supermarkets.
“We supply to the Brisbane Central Markets,” Nigel said.
“Our high-end fruit will go to the fruit shops in Brisbane and Toowoomba.
“Then our larger quantities of fruit go to Coles and Woolworths in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and up to Townsville.”
Mr Pratt said the stonefruit season on the Granite Belt was earlier than southern regions of Australia, which allowed better market access.
“The earlier fruit performs better than the later season fruit because of competition in the marketplace,” he said.
“Later in the season some of the larger growers down south have begun full production and they tend to flood the market.
“Up here the harvest season is earlier than down south. There are growers that harvest before us at Kumbia (near Kingaroy).
“We come in at the end of their season. We’re all chasing each other’s tails.”
PREPARED: Nigel Pratt from Traprock Orchard said harvesting would start towards the end of this month.