South Africa, 19 April 2021: This year, South Africa is expecting a bumper apple harvest, with an expected growth of approximately 5% from 2020. Dutoit Agri – one of the country’s leading fruit producers – harvests over 130 000 tons of apples annually, with 7 500 various team members per season. It can take up to 210 days to grow an apple from flower to plump, juicy fruit, with pollination a crucial part of the process. Here, Gysbert du Toit at Dutoit shares more fun facts about the goddess Aphrodite’s favourite fruit.
Gysbert says, “There’s nothing like that first bite into a beautifully crisp apple. It’s made all the more special when you know the journey of the fruit, from our farm to your family. Nestled in carefully selected areas with unique growing conditions in the Western and Eastern Cape for apples. Water is a precious commodity which we use responsibly and sustainably. The resources are optimised by balancing the environmental requirement with the trees demands. Our apple orchards are tended to 365 days of the year. It’s crucial to create the ideal environment to ensure the trees get the nutrients they need. We have about 3 714 760 trees in total to care for.
More little-known facts about the humble apple:
- Old Apple: Apple trees can live for a long, long time. It takes six years for a new tree to reach full production, although it’ll bear its first fruit in year three. Dutoit’s first trees were planted in 1922.
- Soil health: It’s important to get the soil just right. Like all other things, it comes down to the balance. We focus on restoring the soil physical, biological and chemical relationships to ensure the best growing conditions to yield nutritional fruit.
- All abuzz about bees: Pollinators are the bees’ knees when it comes to apple growing. Dutoit loves its bees so much it has about 4400 hives each season – that equals two hives per HA of apples.
- Fabled fruit: Apples are firm features in Greek and Roman mythology. They’re also frequent guest stars in fairy tales. Their biblical reputation as forbidden fruit has long linked them with knowledge, temptation, perfection and beauty.
- Apples are the reason we understand gravity… sort of: We all know the tale of the apple that dropped on an unsuspecting Isaac Newton’s head, ‘knocking’ the law of universal gravitation into his ‘noggin’. Evidence suggests Newton merely witnessed an apple fall from a tree – it didn’t actually land on him.
- An apple a day… May well help to keep the doctor away! Apples have been linked with reduced risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and more. They contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin C, along with B-complex vitamins (red blood cell production and a healthy nervous system) and vitamin K (bone strengthening and normal blood clotting). They also have heaps of fibre, which aids digestion.
- Ripe for the picking. As an apple ripens, the starch stored within the fruit is converted to sugar and aroma. Apples are harvested when the maturity reach its optimum levels to ensure the best texture and eating experience after storage.
- Apples with apples: Grouped, Dutoit grows 13 different varieties and we are focused on actively pursuing new varieties from breading programmes across the world. All apples are equal, but they’re not all the same. They have different personalities, all deliciously served fresh, but some can also be used for baking and juicing. You need to know the different varieties to be able to pick your perfect Dutoit apple to satisfy your own taste buds.
- Apples create jobs: This creates opportunities for communities. Dutoit employs 7500 team members every season. It also works alongside social development experts to improve the wellbeing of the communities it is involved in.
Sensuous, juicy, desirable and delicious, apples are ideal for a snack or celebration. They bring natural beauty to every table and have long been associated with abundance and generosity. While some apples like the Golden Delicious are available all year round, others, like the Royal Gala, have a specific season. Gysbert concludes, “To pick your Dutoit apple, it’s important to know which variety will match your desired flavour. There’s an apple for every occasion.”
Pick your Dutoit apple at selected PnP stores from May 2021.