Southern Tasmanian cherry growers are in a race against the clock to pick their produce or face the possibility of leaving it to rot. The industry is celebrating a bumper crop on the back of a mild winter and spring, but hot conditions in recent weeks have ripened all the fruit at the same time for some growers.
For producers such as Pip Allwright, based in the Upper Derwent Valley in the state's south, it means 80 per cent of her fruit is now ready to harvest. Miss Allwright employs about 12 seasonal staff to pick the fruit, but she is concerned they will not be able to work fast enough.
"They're really a bit like children — you think you know what they're going to do but they do the other thing. We've had to go from Plan A to Plan B, and we're up to Plan C. Plan C is that we'll probably open up the orchard and say to people, come and pick your own."
This year, the Allwrights expect to harvest up to 15 tonnes per hectare on their 1.5-hectare orchard.
Nick Allwright said it was uncommon for the entire orchard to ripen after Christmas — the peak demand period for the product in the domestic market. “ Two weeks ago, [the cherries] weren't ready and then all of a sudden they are. You can't pick them all in one day, though, because then you've got to sell them all in one day."
According to an article on abc.net.au¸ the hot conditions have also impacted the timeline of other commodities in the agriculture sector, including raspberries.