Hot cherry season
Growers expect great exports
THE recent rains did not dent cherry growers’ enthusiasm for a quality crop this season.
John Woodhouse, from Kings Rock Cherries at Magra in the Derwent Valley, said his crop was looking good after heavy rainfall last weekend.
The property copped 21mm over 24 hours, with 7mm of that in just three minutes.
“The heavy rain didn’t hurt, but an extended soak over weeks could cause damage. We were irrigating during the dry and then this deluge hit.
“We won’t know yield of the crop until we pick, extreme weather events can affect a crop quite quickly.”
Mr Woodhouse’s 3.5ha orchard grows Simone and Lapin cherries and the farm also runs a small herd of beef cattle.
In September Mr Woodhouse went to the Asia Fruit Logistica trade event in Hong Kong and he said there was an incredible market for Tasmanian export cherries.
“I’ve heard nationally there is a lot of cherries about, which could affect some domestic prices, but our cherries are packed and marketed for export by Reid Fruits. I hope export prices are not affected.
“Overall I am positive. There will be always a market for good, quality export fruit.”
Tasmania has a later growing season than interstate growers and a strong export focus. The local cherry season runs from mid-December to late February with peak of production in January.
Tasmanian cherries are exported to more than 20 countries including into Asia, Middle East and Europe.
Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Phil Pyke said any glut of interstate cherries could affect smaller growers selling into local markets.
“Tasmania has a late season so growers manage to get a better price and we have the advantage of the export markets,” Mr Pyke said.
He expects a deal to allow fresh cherries to be airfreighted directly to China from the mainland not to affect local exports.
“Asian demand for cherries always exceeds supply,” Mr Pyke said.
Since 2013 Tasmania has been the only state to airfreight cherries directly into China. Now cherries from the mainland can also potentially be on Chinese shelves within 48 to 72 hours of harvest.