Table­lands starts pick­ing

Tablelands Advertiser - - RURAL INSIGHT - Kim­ber­ley Vla­sic

TABLE­LANDS mango grow­ers can look forward to higher re­turns this sea­son as a smaller crop keeps prices firm.

The Ma­reeba-Dimbulah re­gion is ex­pected to de­liver 1.95 mil­lion trays – the most in Queens­land – de­spite poor grow­ing con­di­tions.

Dimbulah farm­ers have started pick­ing, with Ma­reeba grow­ers to fol­low in the com­ing weeks and the har­vest to peak over the New Year.

“The prices should be a lot firmer this year and re­turns for farm­ers should be higher than nor­mal,” said Aus­tralian Mango In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (AMIA) Far North Queens­land di­rec­tor John Nu­ci­fora.

“The cost of pro­duc­tion in a year like this is very high be­cause of there’s less vol­ume per hectare, but the firmer prices will make it sus­tain­able.”

A mild win­ter and poor wet sea­son stunted growth in mango or­chards across the Table­lands, and pro­duc­tion is down right across the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly in the KP va­ri­ety.

AMIA chief ex­ec­u­tive Robert Gray es­ti­mated the na­tional crop at 7.5 mil­lion trays.

“Cer­tainly in Ma­reeba and cen­tral Queens­land the KP crop is down at least 30 per cent in some ar­eas, maybe more,” he said.

“KP rep­re­sents about 50 per cent of the to­tal crop, the other 50 per cent is made up pre­dom­i­nantly of R2E2, Keitt, Ca­lypso and Honey Gold, so they’re pick­ing up some of the slack.”

Mr Nu­ci­fora is buck­ing the trend with a pos­si­ble record crop as more trees come on­line. Like other farm­ers on the Table­lands, he is pray­ing for rain as Ti­na­roo Falls Dam dwin­dles to about 34 per cent.

“Our fu­ture looks very grim if we have an­other dry sea­son,” he said.

De­spite a loom­ing wa­ter shortage, Mr Gray said the fu­ture is bright for Far North mango grow­ers.

“They pro­duce a very high qual­ity, high flavour prod­uct that is quite unique in the world and it’s the last sea­sonal fruit in Aus­tralia, so shoppers can’t get enough of the prod­uct,” he said.

“For grow­ers that are pro­duc­ing great qual­ity, and the ma­jor­ity are, there’s a real op­por­tu­nity for them to ex­pand their busi­nesses, both do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, over the com­ing years.”

Pic­ture: Marc McCor­mack

Dimbulah mango grow­ers have started pick­ing and Ma­reeba is about to come on­line. Aus­tralian Mango In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion Far North Queens­land Di­rec­tor John Nu­ci­fora with his crops.

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