Fly­ing foxes feast

Pests hav­ing a real im­pact on the re­gion’s mango har­vests

Central and North Burnett Times - - LOCAL NEWS - ❏ Sue Har­ris

MUN­DUB­BERA’S mango har­vest started this week with grow­ers re­port­ing a 20% drop in kens­ing­ton pride pro­duc­tion and more fly­ing fox dam­age than in pre­vi­ous years.

The har­vest will last for three to four weeks with top qual­ity fruit head­ing for both domestic and ex­port mar­kets.

Fruit marked by hail and other weather con­di­tions will be sold as sec­onds while lesser-qual­ity man­goes will be juiced.

Golden Mile farm man­ager Hen­rik Petersen said the kens­ing­ton pride crop was down right across the coun­try, but less fruit hadn’t re­sulted in higher prices.

“The pro­duc­tion drop is just a sea­sonal thing. Hopefully next year’s crop will be up again,” he said.

“Golden Mile’s kens­ing­ton pride man­goes will sup­ply the domestic mar­ket and be ex­ported to China.

“Our honey gold crop will be picked a lit­tle later and sold do­mes­ti­cally.”

MrPetersen said he­was ex­pect­ing to har­vest about 300 tonnes of fruit.

While Golden Mile man­goes haven’t at­tracted more than the usual num­ber of fly­ing foxes, both Ray Sorensen and Chris Al­lan are see­ing more dam­age this year.

“The fly­ing foxes are giv­ing our fruit a bit of a touch up,” Mr Sorensen said.

Chris Al­lan and his son Tom, ofWeemil­lah, are go­ing through pick­ing the early ripen­ing fruit in an ef­fort to get a re­prieve from fly­ing fox dam­age.

“Where the trees get the morn­ing sun, the man­goes ripen ear­lier than the rest and this at­tracts the fly­ing foxes,” Mr Al­lan said.

“We’re pick­ing th­ese off first in the hope that they’ll leave the crop alone for a while. This means we’ll do three picks in­stead of the usual two.”

Us­ing spe­cially-de­signed pick­ing machines, each op­er­a­tor ma­noeu­vres into po­si­tion us­ing foot ped­als, leav­ing their hands free to pick the fruit which is dropped into bag. When the bag is full it is emp­tied into a bin.

The bin is then taken to the pack­ing shed where the fruit is sorted and packed.

Pho­tos: Sue Har­ris

MANGOHARVEST: Rod­ney Free picks­man­goes­for Chris andSueAl­lan in Mun­dub­bera.

RU­INED: Oth­er­wise per­fect fruit is ren­dered worth­less by fly­ing foxes.

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