Wednesday, October 24, 2018
   
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Apricots

apricotsRockhaven farm has a large number of old apricot trees, dating back to the time when this fruit was farmed intensively (mainly as dried fruit) on the farm (which makes these trees around 20 years old). 

The orchards have been rehabilitated and we now get a crop of organic apricots every year, with harvesting taking place in the first week of December.

Guests are welcome to join us during the harvest.  The fruit is always abundant and full of flavour.   We sell to local supermarkets and keep back a large quantity for jam as well.




At present, Rockhaven produces approximately half a ton of organic apricots each year.


When we first took over the farm, we found the apricots orchards neglected and heavily infested with pine and wattle trees.  Many of the fruit trees had been killed or damaged by weed and slangbos infestation, and huge damage had been

done by apricotsbaboons breaking branches to find fruit.  The trees had received no irrigation for over 15 years and had survived by sending deep roots down to the groundwater.  We spent some time cleaning one of the orchards and installing irrigation.  This orchard receives organic fertiliser and irrigation, and is pruned annually.  The results have been rewarding, as this orchard now produces a large amount of perfectly formed fruit.  The intention is to extend this rehabilitation program to the other apricot orchards as well.


The biggest threat to the fruit remains the large baboon troops that inhabit the mountain.  As the fruit ripens, so their interest heightens until, in the weeks before harvest, it is necessary to place baboon monitors in the orchards from early morning until dusk.  We use crackers and the occasional gun shot to chase the animals away, but we still lose about 20 % of the crop each year.


The fruit is picked and packed into cardboard fruit boxes with wood shavings.  Aproximately half the crop is immediately sold to local supermarkets in Porterville and Piketberg.  The remainder is eaten by family and friends, and is used to make jam.  Some of this jam is sold off the farm and is available for a few months after harvest.




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