Grow­ing fruit pro­duc­ers

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FARM PROFILE -

Har­vest in Queens­land’s Bur­dekin-Bowen re­gion starts about De­cem­ber 10 and is fin­ished by Christ­mas or new year at the lat­est. Pick­ing at Ma­reeba and Rock­hamp­ton kicks off around Christ­mas and runs un­til late Jan­uary when the Bund­aberg sea­son starts and ex­tends through Fe­bru­ary.

Honey gold yields on av­er­age about 16 tonnes/ha or dou­ble those achieved by kens­ing­ton pride.

CROWN­ING GLORY

Pi­nata is Aus­tralia’s big­gest pineap­ple grower and the only one able to sup­ply prod­uct year round. Pineap­ples are planted as crowns and take two years to grow at Wa­mu­ran and 16 months and 18 months re­spec­tively in the warmer cli­mates of Humpty Doo and Ma­reeba.

The bulk of fruit is planted at Wa­mu­ran between July and Christ­mas and at Ma­reeba between Fe­bru­ary and July.

Pineap­ples are planted in well-drained soil — “they don’t like wet feet” — on raised beds at a rate of about 60,000 plants per hectare.

“They are a Bromeli­aceae, which is a type of cac­tus, so they don’t need a lot of rain, they just need reg­u­lar rain,” Gavin said.

He said the ideal grow­ing tem­per­a­tures for pineap­ples were days of 30C max­i­mums and 20C overnight min­i­mums.

Most pineap­ple plants pro­duce one fruit of about 1.8kg, re­sult­ing in yields of about 70 tonnes/ha. Har­vest runs from Novem­ber to Au­gust at Humpty Doo, July to March at Ma­reeba and Fe­bru­ary to Novem­ber at Wa­mu­ran.

When it comes to straw­ber­ries, Pi­nata grows a range of va­ri­eties, in­clud­ing fes­ti­val, for­tuna, al­bion, red rhap­sody, scar­lett rose and sun­drench, and trial oth­ers each year. Har­vest at Wa­mu­ran runs from May to Oc­to­ber and at Stan­thorpe from Septem­ber to June.

Straw­ber­ries are grown both in the open on raised beds and in coconut coir on up­right trel­lises un­der poly tun­nels, which pro­tect the crop from ex­treme weather events and pro­vide more uni­form fruit in terms of flavour, shape and colour.

In Au­gust last year, the first com­mer­cial straw­ber­ries pro­duced un­der an ex­clu­sive ar­range­ment with UK-based Ber­ryWorld, which has ac­cess to best-tast­ing va­ri­eties from Europe, were mar­keted.

Pi­nata launched its first crop of Ber­ryWorld rasp­ber­ries in Jan­uary this year.

PACK­ING TIME

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