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NEW SOUTH WALES
BY ADAM COLEMAN
The season winding up in NSW has been
in start contrast to the previous one.
Trees went into and out of dormancy
during one of the drier winter/spring
periods recorded, compared to the
extreme wet experienced last year. With
a large number of frosts experienced,
chill portions were accumulated early
and blossom was condensed, with ideal
pollination conditions. Fruit set was higher
in most regions and slower day degree
accumulation during cell division stages of
crop development was setting things up for
a bumper season. The industry was talking
about the potential of a record Australian
crop. However, with many regions only
accumulating 50 to 60 per cent of total
yearly rainfall, many people had one eye on
the sky as picking neared.
Harvest started slowly as the crop volume
and cooler weather impacted on maturity.
Early-season fruit quality was good, brix down
a little and crop volumes higher than average.
This, coupled with exceptionally high pack-
outs, was setting up a bumper harvest. Young
was about 10 to 30 per cent through picking
and Orange had not made a start – when
on 2 December the skies opened up and
the majority of NSW and Victorian production
regions received 70 to 130-millimetres-plus.
There were fears of major crop losses in
NSW. Many producers used helicopters and
air blasters to dry trees between rain events.
On assessment, damage was about 10 to
20 per cent on varieties either being picked
or close to picking. Growers who applied
full calcium, fungicide and rain protectants
certainly experienced less damage.
As producers progressed into the bulk
varieties of Lapins and Simone, crop volumes
exceeded the losses sustained due to the
rain for earlier varieties. The pre-Christmas
domestic market proved to be strong, with
grab-bag orders in high demand. Post-
Christmas, the domestic market experienced
a slump, which was compounded by a
depressed export market, largely due to the
record volume of Chilean fruit in China.
With harvest winding up, it is still a little
early for exact production figures. However,
despite the rain at picking, the sentiment is
that NSW has produced a large crop, with
average sizes of 30mm in Orange and 28 to
30mm in Young.
Adam Coleman is a development officer at
the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
4 SEASON UPDATES
BY SUSIE GREEN
This year’s growing season started with
some challenges, with a spring hailstorm in
late October sweeping across the Adelaide
Hills, impacting on many of the fruit crops.
Some of the more exposed cherries
suffered sufficient damage to shed from the
trees; however, fortunately much of the fruit
coloured and grew out the hail marks.
The weather thereafter was mostly
favourable, with some smaller rain events
and very little extreme heat. We were
lucky to not have the very large rains that
affected the eastern states, which meant
that overall most growers ended up with
roughly average yields. Overall, fruit size was
good and quality in the box was reasonable,
although pack-outs were variable.
There was strong demand in the local
market for cherries and good returns in the
lead-up to Christmas. We also saw plenty
of fruit available after Christmas, although
demand in the market fell away significantly.
There was some export activity from South
Australia, with some consignments into
Vietnam (along with the more established
markets). We would like to acknowledge
the Australian Government – in particular
Senator Anne Ruston and the Department of
Agriculture and Water Resources – along with
the Cherry Growers Association board and the
Cherry Export Working Group, for their work
in export market development, which we saw
come to fruition this year with air freight access
into Vietnam and China being negotiated.
The Cherry Map once again is proving to
be a very effective mechanism for promoting
farm-gate sales – with both Pick-Your-Own
and Shed Door sales being very popular
among local residents as well as international
tourists. This year we trialled a cherry
ambassador program, in which prolific social
media users were signed on to promote
cherries through their social media networks.
We are currently reviewing the success of
this program and how it can be improved
upon for future seasons.
Growers will also come together in the
coming weeks for our annual post-harvest
review meeting, to reflect on the season
Susie Green is executive officer of the Cherry Growers
Association of South Australia.
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