Berries ready

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

PICK­ING has started across Tas­ma­nia's berry in­dus­try de­spite a cool start to the sea­son.

For Turn­ers Beach Berry Patch owner Craig Mor­ris, the on­go­ing fruit-fly re­stric­tions will see a lot less fruit grown on his farm this year.

While his op­er­a­tion can now sell fresh fruit to cus­tomers within the North-West con­trol zone, Mr Mor­ris said not be­ing able to fu­mi­gate their fruit meant they were still un­able to ac­cess main whole­sale mar­kets.

“Our sea­son has started a lot slower than nor­mal and the main rea­son for that is we have just planted the bare min­i­mum we need be­cause we still won't be able to sell into our nor­mal mar­kets,” Mr Mor­ris said.

“We’re ba­si­cally just treat­ing this year as a hold­ing pat­tern.”

Mr Mor­ris es­ti­mates the re­stric­tions mean the busi­ness is only ac­cess­ing about 5 per cent to 8 per cent of its nor­mal mar­kets.

Changes to the com­pen­sa­tion part of the State Govern­ment’s fruit-fly as­sis­tance mea­sures that came in ef­fect in Oc­to­ber mean grow­ers within the con­trol zone do not re­ceive any fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for fruit that sold at a loss or wasted.

“The Govern­ment told us that no one would be dis­ad­van­taged, but we’re go­ing to be mas­sively worse off,” Mr Mor­ris said.

As well as fruit sales, the farm also has an on-site cafe which Mr Mor­ris said has been a huge ben­e­fit since the fruit­fly in­cur­sion.

“We’re very lucky we’ve di­ver­si­fied into agri-tourism,” he said. “The cafe is very busy and we’ll have enough fruit for what we need there.”

Mr Mor­ris said most of their cus­tomers are very sup­port­ive of the fruit move­ment re­stric­tions.

With no fruit be­ing grown in the farm’s poly tun­nels this year, Mr Mor­ris said those would be used to prop­a­gate new plants in prepa­ra­tion for next sea­son.

Adult fruit flies and lar­vae were de­tected in the state ear­lier this year.

Tas­ma­nia’s fruit in­dus­try now faces a ner­vous wait over the next few weeks as the Jan­uary 9 dead­line for the state to be de­clared fruit-fly free again gets closer.

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