The start to the Pink Lady season in South Africa’s eastern Free State has been thrilling, with producers waiting on cooler temperatures for colour development which finally came about 10 days ago and last Monday it was all hands on deck to get the apples off.

Originally the start of the Free State Pink Lady harvest was pencilled in for around 20 March, but producers took the nail-biting decision to let it hang longer, after what has been an unusually hot summer. This they did for close to three weeks, fortunate to get a drop in temperatures while fruit maturity is still within specification.

These are the very first Pink Ladies from South Africa, sent to UK retail where the pull appears undimmed by Europe’s own high apple stocks, and Free State apple producers send as much as they can during the early window. – Image: Maluti Fruit