2021 a Bumper Crop for Happy Orange Growers
For the first time in three years, the Harris family have started picking their first real crop of navel oranges.
Sweet, full of juice, bright in colour and super tasty, this year’s crop is a far cry from the past few years.
The drought had a devastating impact on the 3000 trees, they lost around 200 and those that did bear fruit, didn’t provide the crop of previous years.
2021 is an entirely different situation.
The trees are full of fruit and farmer Chris Harris’ wide smile reveals he is one happy orange grower.
The 600-acre property at Milbrodale, near Singleton, predominantly produces oranges, both navel and Valencia, providing produce year round.
You will also find mandarins, lemons, limes, pumpkins, gramma, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and then there are the more unusual pomellos, loquets, avocados and a mango tree that provides just enough fruit to satisfy the family.
Herbs are also grown and, except for the mangoes, the produce provides plenty of items for a weekly stall at the Broadmeadow markets operated by Chris and his wife, Sue.
Chris grew up on the property and admits he probably doesn’t appreciate his surroundings but they sure are spectacular.
Milbrodale Creek meanders through the property and the mountainous escarpment full of rocky crevices and native flora and fauna provides a spectacular visual backdrop of sheer beauty.
The orange grove was neatly planted, originally back in the 1920s when Chris’ grandfather and his brother first settled in the area.
In time it was his mother Betty, and husband, Harold, who ran the property, planting a macadamia and walnut tree when they first married.
Those trees are now proudly nestled in amongst the oranges. Sue picks most of the walnuts for the markets and the local cockatoos make the most of those remaining on the tree.
The farm also offers the general public the opportunity to pick their own oranges and interest in this past time has grown in recent years with many a visitor stepping away from their vineyard stay to experience farm life.
Sue and Chris have sold their produce at the Broadmeadow markets for around 16 years and the reputation of their oranges has customers lining up to buy week-in, week-out.
“People know they can expect quality from us, they are freshly picked and there is a lot of demand,” he said.
But there is more to do on the farm than just pick oranges.
Weed control, irrigation, pruning, slashing between the rows of trees, planting new stock keep them busy and even at 94-years- of age, Harold continues to do his fair share of picking.
The farm is located at the end of Thompson Road at Milbrodale and anyone wanting a beautiful orange can head out their and pick – $2 a kilo for oranges and $3 a kilo for mandarins.