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AU: Short grape season for WA growers

Western Australian table grape growers are expecting lower yields this season due to a combination of storms and hot spells.

In March 2015, Cyclone Olwyn tore through the state, causing severe damage to a number of crops in the Carnarvon region of Western Australia. Then a hot spell in November saw harvesting begin slightly earlier than usual for a number of grape varieties.

Carnarvon grower Mark Bumbak of Bumbak & Sons says that all of their vines have ripened at the same time this season, resulting in a shorter harvesting period.

“All of the varieties we’re harvesting are ready at once. They should be spread out over four weeks,” he says. “We’ve never seen a year a like it.”

Bumbak & Sons began harvesting on 19th November 2015, with seven main varieties: Prime Seedless, Midnight Beauty, Flame Seedless, Sweet Celebration, Red Globe, Sweet Scarlotta and Dawn Seedless.

Mr Bumbak says the Midnight Beauty vines have already been “completely stripped out” and has observed mixed quality through all the varieties.

“Volume is down because of the cyclone in March, and that’s across the board for Carnarvon,” he says. “They’re of mixed quality, with what we call shot berries.”

Despite the unusually challenging conditions, Mr Bumbak says the market is strong for high quality fruit.

“There’s good, firm prices for good quality fruit, but you have to spend a lot of money to get a premium line.”

Bumbak & Sons is planning to target more premium local and international markets in the future, having recently added to its vineyards and planted several new varieties.

“We’ve planted four hectares of Sweet Globe and 1.2 hectares of Sweet Sapphire this season,” he says. “They’re expected to go well because of their high flavour and good storage life. They’re all-round better grapes.”

Mr Bumbak says they currently supply Western Australia, but says the introduction of these new varieties opens up the possibility of export into Hong Kong and other parts of Asia.

For more information:
Mark Bumbak
Bumbak & Sons
Tel: +61 428 677 701
Email: mbr4@bigpond.com



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