South Australia’s hail-stricken apple and pear industry will receive a $1.3 million lifeline after the State Government agreed to waive a growers’ co-operative debt.
Lenswood Cold Stores Co-operative Society chairman Iain Evans said the debt write-off was great news for Adelaide Hills growers, who had faced two years of poor seasons followed by crops being damaged in hailstorms in 2017 and 2018: “All of the industry in SA is facing financial stress. They’ve got heavily damaged crops, which will attract a lower retail price so they’re in for another very difficult 12 months. More fruit will be sold as second-grade fruit or for juice.”
Growers at a recent industry meeting heard that in the Adelaide Hills, November’s storm had impacted more than 60 per cent of this season’s crop, exceeding the damage caused by hail in 2017, which dealt a $32 million blow.
The Lenswood co-operative packs and sells about 60 per cent of the state’s apples, from the Adelaide Hills, Riverland and South East. “Without the co-operative remaining there wouldn’t be enough storage or packing capacity in SA to handle the fruit,” Mr Evans said.
As reported on perthnow.com.au, the State Government had loaned the group $1.3 million over several years, to help buy and plant various apple varieties to service the produce market.