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AU: Stonefruit volumes short on last year

The Australian stonefruit season started a bit early this year with peaches and nectarines being harvested in early October in some districts two weeks earlier than normal. According to Rowan Little from Montague Fresh, total stonefruit volumes will be down on last season, estimates at the moment are around 15-20% less than last year, but it is still early days.

"Last season was a bumper harvest, so although this years volumes will be down, they will in fact be more like normal," explains Little. " Apricots appear to be the worst affected with a poor set reducing the volume of fruit on trees. Despite the poor set the Honeycot variety is going well. We had a very windy spring and warm winter which had played a part in the reduced volumes."

As well as peaches and nectarines, Montague also grows plums which should be available in decent volumes by mid December, Little explains that varieties such as Black Diamond are very popular on domestic and export markets.

Montague grows stonefruit throughout Australia and markets its premium stonefruit under The Montague Tree brand which consists of different varieties but all with high sugar and exclusive to Montague. Montague has a particular focus on pluots and plums from late December and is excited by the flavour it is achieving on these cultivars. Varieties in the Montague Tree brand are drawn from a number of breeding programs including Sun World, Bradford and PSB in Europe. “Our goal with Montague tree brand is to deliver the best fruit from the best new cultivars” explains Little.

The Australian dollar is slightly deflated just now giving better opportunities on the export markets, but as Little stresses this is entirely subject to good volumes. Montague mainly exports to the Middle and Far East, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Russia, they have also exported at times to Europe but this has been limited.

"It will be interesting to see how demand is in Europe, the Chilean stonefruit is down because of frost and the South African crop has been affected by hail, the biggest problem for Australian exporters is the cost of freight."

For more information:
Rowan Little
Montague Fresh
Tel: +61 39709 8122

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