The Seasonal Shift

We’re at the start of winter, and the dust on our farms is slowly starting to settle after a busy harvest season. After months of abundant sunshine, we’re now witnessing the gradual transformation of leaves into vivid hues of yellow and orange.

As the mornings become crisper and the last apples were plucked from the branches, our farmers transitioned seamlessly into a phase of post-harvest activities. This crucial period sees the farms bustling once again with activity as they embark on a series of tasks aimed at preserving the vitality of our trees. From the careful application of fertilisers to the precise implementation of foliar feeding techniques, every action is taken with the utmost consideration for the health and well-being of our orchards. By replenishing essential nutrients depleted during the growing season, we ensure that our trees are fortified and ready to withstand the rigours of winter dormancy. Already, the trees have begun to store vital nourishment within their buds, bark, and roots, a testament to nature’s resilience and capacity for renewal. This internal accumulation of resources sets the stage for the forthcoming spring awakening and blossoming, laying the foundation for another season of abundant harvests and vibrant growth.

As May drew to a close, our farmers’ efforts transitioned to the meticulous pruning of aged and surplus branches. With a keen eye and steady hand, they embark on the meticulous process of assessing each tree and determining the precise cuts needed to optimise its health and productivity. Aged and surplus branches are carefully identified and removed, opening up the canopy to allow for better air circulation and light penetration. This not only fosters healthy growth but also helps to prevent the spread of diseases and pests that thrive in crowded, shaded environments.

Meanwhile, at our packhouse in Villiersdorp, the fruit intake has also slowed down considerably. Optimal storage conditions are crucial for securing high internal quality and freshness to allow us to meet year-round consumer demand.

For this, we promptly transferred the fruit to controlled atmosphere (CA) refrigeration rooms upon arrival from our farms and producers. CA storage is a postharvest management practice aimed at slowing down the ripening and breakdown of fruits by manipulating the carbon dioxide (CO₂) and oxygen (O₂) concentration in the storage environment, in combination with temperature and humidity. Fruit is placed in air-tight storage chambers, and the normal 21% concentration of oxygen in the air is reduced to 1-3% by flushing the storage room with nitrogen gas.

Our meticulous approach to fruit storage underscores our commitment to quality, playing a vital role in our farm-to-table journey. It ensures that each fruit retains its natural freshness and flavour, even as the seasons change.