Slim pickings for Mike and his giant peach tree in Limerick

FORECASTS of terrible crop harvests due to the bad weather have borne fruit in Pallasgreen.

FORECASTS of terrible crop harvests due to the bad weather have borne fruit in Pallasgreen.

Last year, Mike Condon’s peach tree produced over 200 pieces of fruit, last week he counted just 12.

While there are many peach trees in Ireland Mike’s is one of the few that produces a crop.

The trees like warm weather and little rain. In normal years Mike has managed to overcome that with a sheltered location and a plastic sheet to keep the rain off.

But even that couldn’t compete with the dullest, wettest and coolest summer in years.

“It’s been a disaster of a year. It’s down to two things - the weather and the lack of bees to pollinate the flowers.

“I lost two hives of bees in May and June and that meant an awful lot. They get beaten down to the ground by heavy rain. They were even getting caught in flowers and got saturated by rain. They didn’t make it back.

“It would cost around €1,200 to replace them. You need the workers bees to pollinate the fruit,” said Mike.

Bruff RFC’s first hooker has used an artist’s paint brush to pollinate each individual flower on the tree in previous years. However, due to a car accident he wasn’t able to do it this year.

Every year Mike sells his peaches to neighbours and friends to raise money for street children in India. After last year’s article appeared in the Leader people travelled out from Limerick city to buy peaches, and he even got a donation from a woman in Cavan.

“They came from all over to buy the peaches but I’ve none this year so the bad weather in Ireland is even affecting Goa in India. There is none there to raise funds,” he said.

For the last 24 years Mike has been travelling to Goa to deliver sports tops to street children.

“I work with Kit Aid. They get them from clubs at the end of the season so they are the genuine article,” said Mike.

While there he also uses money made from his peaches to pay for children’s education.

He hopes to run a fundraising event shortly and asks for any courier companies, who may be able to deliver the tops for free to contact him at 086 8174989.

“There are about 120 tops to go over and you should see the children’s face when they learn that they can keep them,” said Mike.

Financial donations are welcome as well to help pay for children’s education. Like all of us Mike is hoping that 2013 will be just peachy.

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