Growing fruit producers
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.
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.