Winter Fruit Picking…

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Thursday 21 November, 2013 by Uncle Spike

Winter citrus fruit harvest time is here again. Last year was a disaster, with 99% of the crop unsold, so we had to bear the sad loss and literally watch 3 tonnes of fruit drop and rot on the ground in the orchard. Most of the time it’s a case of ‘trying’ to sell the whole orchard to a wholesaler, but it’s a lottery with so many fruit producers fighting for a diminishing market.

That’s farming life I guess, but we had a little more success this year. Last week a wholesaler agreed to “take the garden”, which means he will pay us a set amount and then pick as much or as little as he wants/needs during the season. That puts us into profit by about $100 for the year (“Yay!”), but I’d rather that than see such extreme wastage. At least I have cash in my drawer now for the late winter fertiliser (two tractor loads of goat poo – see below) and the spring ploughing 🙂

How much do you pay for 1kg (2.2 lbs)
of fresh-picked clementines I wonder?

Here they sell at the local markets for 1 Turkish Lira, which is about $0.50 or 22 cents a pound. Of course, we just get 40% of that, so 3 tonnes won’t make Uncle Spike a rich guy, not in this lifetime!

We rarely make a profit from the fruit farming, but covering the costs that are incurred throughout the year is certainly my aim. It gives me plenty of exercise (my time is not factored into the math) and I get fresh air all year round; still, we get as much fruit as we can stuff for all our family, and enough organic juice frozen down to last the whole year 🙂

It’s mid November, so it’s the start of the clementine and lemon harvests, with oranges a few weeks later. This period tends to last through till the end of January, but is highly dependant on winter storms and any sudden frosts that usually hit us in the first two weeks of January.

For around 15 days we get a harsh cold winter… yeah right, I know, but relative to our summer it feels pretty darned cold to us!!  Daytime temps can drop as low as 10 (50F) with perhaps 3-4 night’s down to -2 (28F).

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CLEMENTINES READY FOR PICKING

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LARGE AND VERY SWEET WASHINGTON ORANGES

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AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF FRUIT & JUICE FROZEN FOR ALL THE YEAR

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Once the harvest season is over I usually get a couple of weeks grace before starting a manic few weeks of pruning, chopping, clearing, bonfires, and leaf spraying with Bordo Bulamacı (Bordeaux Mix) – remember that story? Yep, it’ll be time to look like a Smurf for a few days again!

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LUGGING ROUND A 35kg BACK SPRAYER

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BLUE, BLUE, EVERYTHING TURNS BLUE !

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Next job is to spread the fertiliser. The best stuff to use is simply good old goat poo!!  But I need two large trailers full, so maybe not this year – it costs a fortune 😦  So maybe this year I’ll use the more traditional approach of buying in 500kg of fertilisers which I spread around the trees by hand. Takes a whole day, and you end up with arms like a monkey, but needs must. For goat poo, it’s a few days work by comparison, with a wheelbarrow and shovel. As each tree needs 1-1.5 loads, it takes time, and with the distances and the rocks, it’s a hard few days slog.

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GOAT POO – THE GOD OF ALL FERTILISERS FOR CITRUS TREES

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All this has to be completed in time for ploughing in the fertiliser before the mid February rains set in. After that, winter is officially over, and it’s time to start harvesting the winter veggies and start preparing for summer once again!

It’s a far cry from my old life sat at a desk in an IT Division of a major bank..!!

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18 thoughts on “Winter Fruit Picking…

  1. Mmmmm! Oranges! One of our favorite fruits! And those are mighty big ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. CountryMum says:

    Good luck with your Clementine harvest. Your trees look very healthy…. must be all that goat manure. Greetings from another farmer in Australia.

    Like

  3. lizard100 says:

    It must be heart breaking to see the fruit go to waste. It’s terrible that it can’t be bought. Hopefully this year it’ll be more positive.
    Contrastingly I’d love to grow citrus fruits here.
    Are you not inclined to get a goat?

    Like

    • Uncle Spike says:

      This year I sold the fruit ok, albeit for a fairly low price. Due to market prices being low though, the guy let one tonne drop and rot until the price rose a bit – less picking/transport combined with the price change increased his profit a bit. Still upsetting to see food wasted though – but that’s farming!

      I’m sure you could grow oranges in a greenhouse…

      Goats eat trees, big time!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. […] to farming in winter here in southern Turkey, there is always plenty to do, from olive harvesting, citrus fruit picking and general winter chores that are pretty well impractical during our long hot summers. The links […]

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  5. […] clementine crop was pretty good this year. This tree is just out the back in the veg garden. Me thinks it all needs […]

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  6. timecollage says:

    Why is goat poo the best? And have you thought about getting some goats? They are not high maintenance, but you gotta watch out for them cause they’ll eat everything, including your clementine tree leaves as well 😀

    Like

    • Uncle Spike says:

      Dunno why it’s so good, but its as good as any commercial fertiliser, such as Ammonia Sulphate, Zinc and the like.
      Goats are serious cash here, mainly due to the sacrificial practices. But even still, they are a lot of work as they require a serious amount to chomp, and yes, they would destroy the orchard.

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  7. Clementines always remind me of Christmas because when I was a boy this was the only time of the year that we saw them!

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  8. I admire your hard work. The orchards are within miles from where I live in the California Sierra and I’m in awe of the trees, the fruits and the hardwork of the guys who relentlessly trim, cut, pick…
    Beautiful crates of fruit you’ve got under your porch.
    Cheers to the heathy juice you’ve got to drink!

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  9. Good luck with the harvest!

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  10. So sad to see that 3 tonnes of fruits got wasted, after putting lot of effort and spending money.

    I am now working in IT field and quite bored with it and planning to take up farming in parallel.

    But I could really foresee the challenges ahead in farming…

    I need to plan it properly 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    and Hope you will get a nice deal.

    Like

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