Fruitful summer predicted for Australian stonefruit growers

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd November 2011

Summerfruit Australia, the peak industry body representing growers of stone fruits in Australia, has predicted a productive summer season for stonefruit growers this year.

Chairman of Summerfruit Australia, Ian McAlister said conditions are as good as they could possibly be given the disruptions of last season. According to Mr McAlister, prospects for nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots this summer are positive with promising flowering and the moisture content in the soil at optimum levels.

Last summer, flooding and extreme weather hampered production of stonefruit in Australia. Mr McAlister said that many areas struck by above average rainfall during the last season didn’t use their water entitlement last season and so have carry-over rights.

“Last year we probably would have seen an over-supply of stonefruits, but the havoc caused by the extreme weather events meant a lot of saturated fruit didn’t meet our quality standards and simply didn’t get picked,” McAlister said.

According to Summerfruit Australia, around 800 growers in 26 regions across Australia produced more than 100,000 tonnes of nectarines, plums, apricots and peaches between October and April each year.

Summerfruit Australia reported that production has increased by approximately 25% nationwide over the last 10 years, but the year to March 2011 saw the lowest volume of exports in a decade. Apricots were the export hero, growing by a dramatic 29% at the same time as other stonefruits suffered a significant decline in volumes. The strong Australian dollar has adversely impacted some opportunities for exports.

The Australian stonefruit season starts in sub-tropical Queensland and production kicks in down-country as the sun heads south for summer. The northern areas of Western Australia and New South Wales spring into action before Victoria and South Australia come on-stream, rounded off by Tasmanian harvests from mid-January.