AU: Good weather has led to improved winter pineapple yields

Despite some cold snaps in the Central Queensland area causing premature flowering, pineapple growers say production has been quite good this season.

Ben Clifton from Valley Syndicate Farms, near Yeppoon, says the weather has provided regular rainfall in the growing area, so good plant growth has led to good yields.

"The winter growing season has provided reasonable growing conditions with soil moisture remaining unusually consistent," he said. "However there have been some serious cold snaps in the Yeppoon area resulting in the worst frost we have seen in years. These cold snaps cause plants to flower prematurely resulting in an abundance of small fruit throughout December and January. But this year we’ve seen a winter crop produce good-sized, delicious pineapples. Shoppers should know that a pineapple’s skin colour will vary between summer and winter but they’re always ready to eat as soon as they hit stores."

The company supplies fresh pineapples through Tropical Pineapples, which are marketed to chain stores, central markets and just about anywhere fresh pineapples are sold in Australia.

"Our company is experiencing steady growth after moving our operation in 2010," he said. "In the last 8 years we have been steadily improving the amount of organic matter in the sandy soil which pineapples love, resulting in better yields."

He adds that the risks of oversupply in any one period is managed by spreading the fruit production throughout the year, with the aim of producing pineapples every week of the year.

"We have been experimenting with ways to reduce the effects of some of the extreme heat events we are subject to in the summer months and have seen some promising results from spreading hay as insulation to reduce sunburn to the skin of mature fruit and heat damage to emerging flowers," he said. "It also gives the added benefit of returning more organic matter to the soil."

Valley Syndicate Farms grows three main varieties of pineapple; 7350, MD2 and smooth cayenne.

"60 per cent of our production is 7350 which is our main 'Gold' variety," Mr Clifton said. "It is a superior eating quality pineapple for the majority of the year and particularly in winter as it has low acid, high sugar and vitamin C. MD2 is another 'Gold' variety and it is a great eating pineapple between December and January. In February and early March the humble smooth cayenne is at its best eating qualities and makes an excellent fresh pineapple when it is more suited to canning in other months of the year.

Best known as a summer fruit, pineapple growers want shoppers to know good quality pineapples are actually available year-round, even in winter. While, Mr Clifton says current demand for Australian pineapples is steady with plenty of room for improvement.

"Other developed countries have much higher rates of pineapple consumption per capita so I see that as a challenge for growers like myself to continually provide excellent eating quality fruit, so consumers can enjoy more fresh pineapple," he said.

For more information
Ben Clifton
Valley Syndicate Farms
Phone: +61 7 4939 3969

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