In 2020, the Wakkerstroom farm in the Witzenberg Valley, won the Ceres Fruit Grower Awards. In addition to winning a number of trophies for the production of specific apple varieties, it garnered the award for the highest average income per hectare for apples out of the 39 farmer suppliers participating.
Fourie Zulch, who farms at Wakkerstroom near Ceres with his father Robert, ascribes their success to the fact that they opt for high packout rates rather than tonnage per hectare: “Some farmers try to produce as many apples as possible per hectare, thinking that more is better. But overloading trees negatively affects fruit size and quality, which leads to lower income per hectare. We focus instead on creating a balance between quality and quantity.”
To perform the balancing act between quality and quantity, the orchards are assessed annually a few weeks after bud break from October onwards, depending on variety, to gauge each one’s production potential for the season.