North-east Victoria

Cherry disease risk in Australia lowered because of dry weather

Farmers very often pray for rain for most of the year, but Australian cherry growers have really enjoyed the dry conditions. Benalla grower Mark Foletta said the dry conditions limited the risk of disease: ‘‘The dry conditions have meant disease pressures are relatively low. ‘With the dry conditions, they are less prone to brown rot. I use no chemical fungicides so the dry conditions have taken the pressure off.’’

Foletta, who has 1200 trees of varieties such as Royal Dawn, Black Star and Lapin, is expecting to harvest an average of 1.5 to 2 tonnes of the fruit. ‘‘The consistency and flavour is better in the later varieties,’’ he said. ‘‘We have started picking this week and we will roll through to Christmas.’’

Foletta said he hired a mixture of locals and backpackers during harvest: ‘‘It’s been a lot harder to find backpackers. They have been a lot less reliable (to find) since the laws came in. [The laws] hit people, who were doing the right thing, particularly the smaller operations.”

‘‘North-east Victoria is unique as it has different types of agriculture. ‘We should be encouraging young travellers to come through the area because it’s a pretty lovely spot here.’’




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