Berries, cherries and pumpkins have had their moment of fame.

Now it is Central Otago's apples in the spotlight, having their earliest harvest in decades.

Teviot Valley fruitgrower and Darlings Fruit Company director Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said apple-picking started on his orchard on February 23 and harvesting began around the rest of Teviot Valley about the same time.

It was the earliest harvest he could remember, and probably the earliest apple picking in the region ''for decades''.


The season's warm weather, as well as bringing the season forward, had also increased the size of the apples, and good-sized, ''very clean and presentable'' apples with ''very good colour'' were expected.

The season usually lasted for about 10 weeks.

The Teviot Valley produced about 80% of Central Otago's apples, Mr Darling said.

Apples were also already being picked in other Central Otago regions, such as Earnscleugh and Alexandra.

Mr Darling said he was expecting a bigger apple harvest than he had anticipated, but his orchard should have ''just'' enough staff.

This year has also had the earliest seasons in recent history for strawberries, cherries, apricots, grapes and pumpkins.

Most crops were picked several weeks earlier than in other years.