Some of Hawke’s Bay’s oldest apple trees have been pulled out to make way for sweeter, high colour varieties, demanded by international markets.
Fuji apple trees planted by pioneering organic grower, John Bostock more than 30 years ago have been pulled from the ground at his home orchard block near Hastings.
Mr Bostock said it’s sad to see the end of an era, but it’s exciting at the same time as Bostock New Zealand moves into new varieties.
“Standard Fuji’s days have been numbered for quite a while now, they are a sweet apple but it’s very hard to get good colour on them. The Asia markets are demanding bright red apples, so we need to meet this demand.
“For the last five years we have been getting feedback from Asia markets, they want the sweet taste with the bright red visual appeal.”
This week four hectares of Organic Fuji apple trees were pulled as part of a wider Bostock New Zealand development.
Mr Bostock says new varieties can be planted closer together, making better use of land.
“You can get two or three times the number of trees in the same area to intensify yields and still focus on quality.
“Some of the new varieties are also developed to reduce blemishes on fruit. We are commanding a premium price, we have to give offshore consumers a premium product.”
Mr Bostock says this season has seen growing sales and linkages into the Asian markets with organic apple volumes increasing from just a handful of airfreighted pallets to Singapore in 2007 to now shipping a significant number of containers across 8 different Asia markets in the 2016 season.
“Traditionally, Asian consumers have bought organic certified products from specialist organic shops but we are now starting to see a push from mainstream retailers across Asia to increase organic dedicated shelf space and widen their organic product range availability across all grocery lines,” said Mr Bostock.
“The new apple tree varieties include Premier Star, TCL3 and Kingsbeer Red – all are bright red, sweet, juicy apples, which appeal to the overseas markets.”