Murcotts exported for Moon Festival
A GOOD export market has been this year’s saviour for Riverton Citrus, despite working with 3000 fewer trees.
Jason and Narelle Emmerton grow imperial and murcott mandarins and lemons on three properties outside of Gayndah, and this year they are counting their blessings.
“(Our fruit was) good quality this year; we don’t know what we’ve done right; someone was looking down on us and gave us nice clean skin fruit,” Mrs Emmerton said.
“We’ve had a bit of blackspot and stuff in the Murcotts, but pretty much kept it under control with spraying.
“We were pretty lucky compared to others who had disease in the imperials, whereas we hadn’t.”
While the imperials and lemons go to markets in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, the murcott mandarins, with their good shelf-life, are exported.
“We’ve had a good export market and lemon prices have held really well this season,” she said.
Murcotts enjoyed strong demand in Thailand, which takes 90% of production, with the balance going to China and Hong Kong.
“For Thailand, they like it there before the Moon Festival, which starts, I think, the second week in August.”
While Mr Emmerton’s father primarily exported to Japan and China, Mr and Mrs Emmerton have been transitioning to Thailand in response to requests from their agents.
They have enough fruit to meet the current demand, so there was no need to chase extra markets, she said.
Imperial and lemon production was similar to last year, but murcott production, down 40%, was impacted by last year’s floods.
“A whole block, (that’s) 1500 trees, got totally washed away, and another 600-700 (trees) were unrepairable.”
As exporters, the Aussie dollar can be both friend and foe.
A strong Australian dollar – optimally about 70-80c US – encourages overseas buyers, but had “skyrocketed the price of fertilisers and chemicals”, Mrs Emmerton said.
And as to local power and water costs, there was nothing they could do.
The couple closed their own packing shed 10 years ago, and now use private packing sheds.
SWEET PICKINGS: Ian Hindle works carefully and quickly to pick the last of the Murcott mandarins at Riverton Citrus.