Citrus growers in Australia's south are expecting an average harvest season, despite a later than normal start.
Seven Fields Managing director, Richard Byllaardt, says harvesting will begin in early May. "Table grapes, wine grapes, stone fruit, everything has been behind this year," Mr Byllaardt said. "So citrus is just following on from that."
Seven Fields owns and manages four citrus properties in the Mildura, or Sunraysia region, producing citrus varieties including oranges, Lemons, Mandarins and grapefruit. Australia sweltered through another hot summer with temperatures hitting the 40 degree mark, but the weather was not as much of an issue at Seven Fields compared to previous years.
However, Mr Byllaardt says the fruit size will be smaller than previous years, in terms of millimetres. "It's looks like it will be a good season for everyone, but some export markets want a bigger piece of fruit, and there's not much of it around this year," he said.
He is expecting the sweetness to increase in the fruit, as the temperature drops heading into late autumn. While he says it is too early to gauge what the fruit prices will be, he expects export revenue to again be key to his business. "With mandarins, half gets exported and half is domestic, but the majority of oranges are exported," Mr Byllaardt said.
"All the same export markets are still around. Nothing has changed in the U.S.A with the new president, so hopefully things stay the same there as well."
Citrus Australia last week released its April outlook update for the rest of the country heading into the harvest season. In Western Australia, it is expecting below average rainfall over the winter months, with a likelihood of warmer than average temperatures. Growers have reported a 2-3 week delay in colour break. While in Queensland, the report says the levels of conditions such as black spot and Emperor Brown spot remain low, while there's only a few occurrences of fruit fly and spined citrus bug damage.
It is expected the numbers of grapefruit, Navelinas and Imperials will increase over the next few weeks.
For more information:
Richard Byllaardt, Sevenfields Phone: +61 3 5002 0502
Publication date: 4/18/2017
Author: Nichola Watson