Cooler south a perfect bite

19:33, Apr 10 2014
Jiale Fu
AN APPLE A DAY: Temporary worker Jiale Fu picks Honeycrisp apples at the orchard in Makikihi.

After spending several years farming dairy crops, a Waimate farmer has diversified into apples.

Paul Geaney was approached to grow the North American variety Honeycrisp by Danny and Peter Bennett of Waipopo Orchards, based at Seadown, who had obtained a licence from a distributor in the United States.

South Canterbury's cooler climes was well-suited to this particular type of apple, compared with the more traditional New Zealand apple orchard regions of Hawke's Bay and Nelson.

Geaney said he had prominent orchardists visiting from Australia who had visited orchards across the country, and were impressed with what he was doing.

"They told the orchardists in Nelson they should be growing apples down here as it goes so well. I don't think they were impressed," he said.

Geaney said he had started the picking season with 25 people, but had to quickly increase that to 50 after realising how large the yield was.


This was his first year growing apples, and he said it had been quite a large learning curve, in particular dealing with the many transient workers involved.

"They are mainly Asians who are here on a working holiday. All work pretty hard but I think the word they best know in English is smoko," he said.

Geaney is growing the Honeycrisp, Royal Gala and Koru varieties, all export-bound.

Alongside the trees are apples that have fallen to the ground or have marks on them, which are not export quality. He said he has not yet figured out what to do with the rejects.

The Timaru Herald