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Hot conditions favour central Australian grapes

Recent record temperatures and below average rainfall are proving beneficial for central Australian table grape growers, with a high quality crop expected this year.

Harvest is about to start at Ti Tree, 190 kilometres north of Alice Springs, where Menindee and Red Flame table grapes are grown for the domestic market.

Vineyard owner Bevan Ball says the warm weather has kept pest and disease damage to a minimum during the growing season.

"We've had no issues with things like powdery mildew. It has been so dry and hot," he said.

"And the insect population has been very low this year, so really the grapes are very clean, really clean, probably the best in a long time."

While the fruit quality is high, Mr Ball says the crop yield is expected to remain similar to last season.

"We are probably still around average this year, but down in Alice Springs at the other farm at Rocky Hill, there are some very nice crops," he said.

"They were light last year, we had a lot of weather damage.

"So overall we are very happy with what we have this year. It is a good average crop for us."

Top End mango growers are experiencing one of their worst seasons, with some farms reporting yield reductions of up to 80 per cent.

However, Mr Ball says the poor mango season is good news for grape growers.

"The mango price will stay high, it may stay around the $4 per mango range," he said.

"If it does people will either buy mangoes or grapes; they don't normally buy both.

"Their bad luck is our good luck sometimes, and it goes the other way too. When they have a really good crop, we sell less grapes.

"So it is a cycle thing."


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