Rosie Savio with Charlotte and Heidi showing off their Envy apples.
Rosie Savio with Charlotte and Heidi showing off their Envy apples.

Red with Envy: Fruits of labour on show after trying season

SINCE 1949 the Savio family has been an ever-present in the Stanthorpe world of apples.

Not in their 70 years of production has the family endured a year like 2020.

Drought, coupled with a global pandemic, has ensured it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.

While production has been down, a new variety has helped boost their production levels and given them a product to envy.

The past four years has seen them trialling a new apple named just that, Envy.

“John (Savio) saw Envy growing in New Zealand first and was impressed,” Rosie Savio said.

“It’s a seriously tasty apple. Good cooking and eating.

“It’s a bit different. Sweeter, thanks to a late harvest.

“It has white flesh that stays white when cut or bitten,” Ms Savio said.

The Envy, developed by Montague, has only been in production just a handful of years.

There’s also only a handful of growers across all of Australia producing it.

Stanthorpe seemed a prime candidate to trial the fresh variety.

“Elevation, good soils and nice temperature,” Ms Savio said.

“Rainfall is proving to be a real challenge. We still have water but we need more.”

Water is the lifeblood of the Granite Belt. For growers like the Savio’s, having little of it has made this seasons growing particularly difficult.

“It’s tough to talk about,” Ms Savio said.

John Savio with grandkids Charlotte and Heidi.
John Savio with grandkids Charlotte and Heidi.

“The drought, a hot summer and then too much Autumn rain at the wrong time for our early varieties, like the Gala, has ensured this season was a very hard year.

“Envy is the last apple to pick. So it has done well. Lots of good fruit but overall less ‘Class A’ quality – which is the standard the supermarkets take.”

Nicoletti Orchards, who grow a small quantity of Envy, have been hit with the same issues.

“It’s hard to grow,” Daniel Nicoletti said.

“I think we need another year or two to test it in Stanthorpe.

“What we’ve seen so far is we’re struggling to grow it properly, visually.

“It’s really nice to eat but because of our climatic conditions there’s been an issue with scarring on the skin.

“We want to move on and progress and keep up with the trends but if you plant the wrong thing it can bite you,” Mr Nicoletti said.

Savio’s picked just 250 bins of Envy this year, compared to the 20,000 of Jazz.

If growing conditions are better next season, they have high hopes for it.

“Queensland is still in drought. It is not over for us,” Ms Savio said.

“It is a big job to harvest. We are thrilled to see the apples moving out of the packing sheds and getting it out into the shops.

“We really need Aussies to eat local fruit.

“Support Aussie farmers and try the new crops.”