Batlow growers are almost ready to deliver the first apples of the season, despite the damage caused to orchards by January's devastating bushfires.
Despite significant damage to orchards, growers have been able to harvest the iconic Batlow apples.
Batlow Fruit Company director and local apple grower Greg Mouat said the picking, production and delivery of new-season royal gala apples was "testament that the Batlow community is getting back on its feet and is on the road to recovery".
"There are more than 20 apple growers in Batlow who supply to Batlow Apples and almost all of them had their orchards damaged in the bushfires. Some suffered damage to about 5 per cent of their orchards, while others had up to 40 per cent damaged," Mr Mouat said.
"Preliminary assessments of those orchards have been done, but it will take several months to assess the full extent of damage to this year's crop and the long-term ability of damaged trees to produce fruit.
"But we are resilient, and every grower here in Batlow is going ahead with their February harvest of new season apples as planned. We're about to start picking and packing the new season gala apples and will see them heading to market around the last week of February," Mr Mouat said.
But, growers are warning the industry is going to need support to survive and rebuild.
Batlow Fruit Company chairman Scott Keddy said it was "vitally important" that Batlow got state and federal government assistance to help growers and the industry with their recovery, and ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the apple growing industry in Batlow.
"Batlow Fruit Company grows, stores, packs and markets apples from our own orchards and for nearly all apple growers in the Batlow district, as well as some surrounding district growers. We are the second largest employer in the district and Batlow Apples make up 55 per cent of all apples produced in NSW and 11 per cent of apples produced Australia-wide.
"Representatives from Batlow met with the federal and state government in January to discuss the damage from the bushfires and how we can work together to recover from the damage and importantly, how to rebuild the apple growing industry and the community in general in Batlow.
"The federal government has provided access to immediate relief funding to assist famers and small businesses through their bushfire grants program, and they indicated to us they were supportive of providing further funding.
"In addition to the immediate relief funding, the government has asked the industry representative body Apple and Pear Australia Limited to conduct a full assessment of the damage and provide a submission detailing what funding is required to enable a full recovery and to ensure the long-term viability of the Batlow apple growing industry.
"We are also communicating with the NSW Department of Primary Industries about ways they can support growers with short-term recovery and the industry as it rebuilds in the long-term.
"It is very pleasing to see our growers pick themselves up so quickly and being able to harvest new season apples is a positive sign the Batlow apple industry can recover from these bushfires," Mr Keddy said.