Ground covered by fruit
PAYING workers to pick tonnes of mandarins and drop them on the ground is a disheartening reality for some North Burnett orchardists.
Ken Roth has a couple of hundred tonne of mandarins with skin damage caused by hail and flooding. Unless they are taken off the trees, there won’t be a crop next year.
Although the fruit still eats well, it’s unsaleable.
“We left them all season hoping the price would come up enough to pick them,” Mr Roth said.
“But that hasn’t happened. Some of the fruit we’ve sent away hasn’t covered costs and the juice price is so low we can’t even pick for juice.”
Unless removed, the weight of the fruit causes trees to stress and there will be no flowers to produce a crop in 2014.
Prices normally range from $8-$20 a carton, but damaged fruit rarely sells for more than $10.
While Mr Roth lost 1100 out of 6000 trees at his Reid’s Creek property, his confidence in the industry is highlighted by his purchase of 4500 trees to plant on higher land.
“I hope we can work together as an industry to get a better quality and price in future,” he said.