Hot cherry sea­son

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - ROGER HANSON

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.

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