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AU: Victorian table grape growers welcome recent 'refreshing' rainfall

While several produce lines suffered in last weekend's storms that lashed parts of Victoria, the table grape industry remained largely unaffected.

Australian Table Grapes Association CEO Jeff Scott says it was a welcome sight for many growers, who received around 40-50 millimetres which was perfect timing given the season has just begun.

"At this time of year it was a great refreshment for the vines," he said. "There were cool breezy days afterwards so no potential for any disease that can follow on from rain. So it was an ideal weather event for us. It was just some irrigation, and luckily there was no hail."

Victorian table grapes are largely grown in Sunraysia and the Murray Valley, while more of the serious weather was experienced in the north and east of the state and into New South Wales, severely affecting some stone fruit, cherry and berry producers.

Mr Scott says fortunately it was a different story for table grapes, which was a relief for many growers with another strong season predicted in Sunraysia.

“Queensland who are in the middle of their harvest are experiencing some light crops but returns have been good to growers," he said. “In Sunraysia though, the vines themselves look like they will be quite good in terms of quality. There are good volumes. The maturity and quality looks very good. It is looking healthy at this stage, so we are looking forward to a good year."

But the main focus for the industry will again be on exports after the 2016/2017 harvest, where Australian table grape exports totalled 106,841 tonnes, worth an estimated $373 million. The ATGA is predicting another record year.

"I'm predicting this year will be our best ever in terms of exports," Mr Scott said. "Everyone is saying the quality is very good and the yield is a good average year. So with the industry being export-focused and with the quality of the grapes grown in Australia, we expect the grapes to be high in demand again. It should be another record year."

A boost for table grape industry came on the back of last month's announcement of revised protocols into China, allowing for exports directly into the country, particularly northern regions. Mr Scott says the finer details are still being sorted.

"There are a number of airlines that go into second and third tier cities in China which will open brand new markets for us in China itself," he said. "So there needs to be some strategic marketing, networking and planning happening. But on the back of the revised protocols, the industry is very excited about the changed conditions of the protocol."

For more information:
Jeff Scott
Australian Table Grape Association Inc. 
Tel: +61 35021 5718

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