Rosemary Hill Orchard is nestled in the Traprock Region, west of Stanthorpe, Queensland. Two generations of the Ferrier family run the operations of their stone fruit orchard and have spent 2019 watching and waiting for rain. Along with many growers during this horrific drought, they have seen their irrigation dam levels shrink alarmingly, however those delectable peaches and nectarines continue to grow!

Waiting on Water

It has been a long 2 years since rainfall has run into the family’s dam. For eighteen months the supply of water for the orchard has been augmented by a small underground bore. This bore has been pumping away like an absolute hero providing a backup water supply. In tough times like these, a backup water supply is vital for the daily running of the orchard. Thanks to this small bore, the Ferrier’s have been able to put a strategy in place for harvest. Their main aim is to have mouth-watering nectarines and peaches ready for the market in mid-October.

Step by Step

The family has implemented a 3-step strategy to manage the reduced water supply. The first step was to prioritize water to the best performing varieties of fruit. Those varieties with the very best flavour and colour. Secondly, the drip irrigation supplying the trees runs for shorter periods, but at more frequent intervals. This ensures that every drop of water is used by the trees, and none is wasted. Finally, the aim has been to reduce the crop load on each tree. To achieve this, the trees are trimmed at the top, and the crop of emerging fruitlets are thinned to about 75% of a normal crop load.

Rosemary Hill Orchard has had a reputation for producing quality tasting stone fruit since 1996. While the yield is less this year, the trees at Rosemary Hill Orchard are responding well to the challenge. The family are confident there will still be a supply of delicious nectarines and peaches from the Traprock Region! Be sure to keep an eye out in local fruit shops and support your Aussie growers!