AU: Honey Gold mango harvest gets underway in Katherine

The Katherine mango season has kicked off for Piñata Farms, with weather making harvesting a little slower than expected.

Operations Manager Stephen Scurr says the picking teams started working night shifts last week, but it has been hampered by the conditions in recent days.

"We had four nights, then it stormed for five nights, and only just got back into it," he said. "It has just been a bit hit and miss weather-wise. But the Katherine is looking like a three-quarter season. It is nowhere near what it was last year and what it could be, just because it didn't flower as much as we would have liked. The quality is not too bad, just a few blemishes and bits and pieces. So, in general quality is not too bad, it’s just not the production we would like."

Immediately following the Katherine season, Piñata switch to Mataranka, where it is looking like a better crop.

"It is going to be back onto what we call a normal crop or back to where it should be," Mr Scurr said. "There was better flowering than Katherine got, I don't know why, maybe it was a little cooler. But Mataranka didn't have as big of a crop as last year, so they can get a bit biannual, so it is probably due for its heavier year."

Piñata only grow the honey gold variety, for which it owns the PBR.

"One of the parents is the Kensington Pride (KP), but it is a natural cross, it wasn't bred," Mr Scurr said. "It is something that has happened in nature, we know one of the parents is a KP, because it was a KP tree, but it has crossed with something in the wild. So, it is a bit like a KP with a beautiful skin colour and it is sweet. We believe it is sweeter than a KP - as we have had people say it is too sweet for them. It is a deep orangey colour with sweet flavours to it."

While Piñata has exported small quantities into Asia, Europe and the U.S. but it is mainly focused on the domestic market at this stage, but Mr Scurr says there is export growth potential in the future.

"It doesn't have the breakdown characteristics of a KP," he said. "So, it travels well, but at the moment we are just looking at the domestic market as we don't have major volumes yet. Piñata owns the PBR on the Honey Gold but we have 35 family farms that grow Honey Gold under license to Pinata. We have our own farm in Darwin, which haven't started producing yet with the younger trees. Hopefully next year Darwin will come online. We want to get as much from the mango season as we can; start in the Darwin area right through to the south during the February-March period."

Mr Scurr says demand is also increasing for this variety of mango, driven by its eating qualities, which is complimented by the increase in the company's production as trees mature.

"We are getting a big following, as a lot of our trees come along - they are only new trees," he said. "With the expansions over the past few years, those trees are coming along so production is going up and up. Every year we can't supply enough of it. So, we believe if you have a good quality product and you do your best to make it a quality product you will get growth in that area - and that's what's been proven."

Piñata also grows pineapples in the Northern Territory, and while the main season does not start until January, Mr Scurr says small volumes will be picked as early as next week.

"That will probably go for a month or so, and then stop and the proper season will start in January," Mr Scurr said. "With bananas we continue to pick bananas every week, and just supply the Northern Territory only, out of that farm and keep up with that local demand of whatever we can supply, which is going very well at this stage."

For more information
Stephen Scurr
Piñata Farms
Phone: +61 7 5497 4295
info@pinata.com.au
www.pinata.com.au


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