Flass Apples is located in the on the farm Voilet and Kransfontein.
Apples thrive in the cold microclimate of the Witteberg Mountains in the Eastern Free State varieties that do well color in the Cape, color here in the mountains even better.
In February, Royal Gala is delivered as a variety before Cape production begins and exported to the Far East, the Middle East, Mauritius, Russia and other countries. The Romeo variety (marketed by Stargrow) has been tailored for the African market.
Flass Apples is aimed at the export market.
The apple’s brand name, FLASS, represents the initials of the four siblings – originally focused on livestock and grain.
Our grandfather and my father started planting apples in this area in 1993 – they were some of the very first to establish apple orchards in the eastern Free State.
This is a fifth and sixth -generation family farm.
Apples currently make up a third of the farms turnover, but it’s a figure we’d like to push up to half over the next three years.
Nine years ago Esias Scheepers took the helm of the apple division, which stepped up a gear in 2017 with the installation of a four lane Mafroda optic sorter, a piece of equipment of which we are very fond of.
In the dust-free, clinical environment of our pack house we pack 100 tones of apples daily.
We also have big coolers to help keep the apples fresh.
Every orchard is covered, but only after risk of snow passes
Due to the ever-present threat of hail, every single orchard on their farm is covered by netting. Elsewhere in South Africa apple producers have encountered problems with excessive vegetative growth under netting, which can also hamper bee pollinating activity. We have seen that vegetative growth can present a problem on old rootstock, like M7, but that (as trials in the Cape have shown) the dwarfing M9 and semi-dwarfing Geneva 202 rootstocks perform much better.
We fold up the nets in April, in case of snow. We don’t get snow every year, but it’s a definite possibility in this part of the country. The risk of leaving the nets on during winter is just too large because the weight of snowfall can damage the construction. Just after full bloom we cover the orchards again.
Sustainable farming for the future.