South West farmers began picking their first apple crops of the season last month. RK & J Fox and Son Orchards of Pemberton, who have been growing fruit in the area since the 1920s, started harvesting their gala apples three weeks ago. Grower Mat Fox said the apples were tasting delicious but needed a few more cold mornings for them to get their bright red colour. “They’ve got a good taste when they’re nice and firm and they’re freshly picked off the tree,” he said. “We do need some colder mornings at around 5C- 6C to get a good colour on them, but it’s been going pretty good so far.” Mr Fox said the apples began growing in October and had enjoyed near-perfect conditions over the past few months. “We haven’t had excessive days of over 40C or anything like that so it has had pretty good growing conditions,” he said. “We want those sunny days and cold mornings.” Mr Fox said he was concerned about the potential shortage of workers to help pick fruit in the coming months and the impact it could have on the industry. “Labour’s been a bit challenging this year for thinning,” he said. “At the moment it’s okay but once we get to May that’s where the real challenge is going to be. “When it’s cold and everyone wants to go up to the sunshine I think it might be a bit hard. “It’s always going to be a challenge for us from now on I think.” The Gala apple variety is medium sized with a sweet flavour profile.