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"Honey Gold quality and size are as good and consistent with what consumers have come to expect"

Demand still expected to be high despite lighter Honey Gold mango crop

While there will be a lighter crop of Honey Gold mangoes in Australia this season, that has not impacted the quality of the premium variety, according to grower Piñata Farms.

The first fruit from the company is arriving on supermarket shelves this week, after harvesting began on the specialty variety in the Northern Territory on November 2. Managing Director Gavin Scurr says picking has been largely unaffected, although there have been some minor staffing hurdles with the local COVID-19 restrictions, especially after the Katherine outbreak this week.

"We are okay on the farm - we are 30 kilometres out of town and all of our staff are living out on-site," he said. "So, we are isolated and being an essential industry, we are allowed to keep doing what we are doing. But what was a challenge was when we finished Darwin, we were held up there for five days before we could shift down to Katherine because of the lockdowns, which was around 10 days ago. We even have staff from Wamuran in Queensland that cannot get home without having to do 14 days in quarantine, so we thought they may as well stay there and be kept active than locked up."

General manager of tropicals Stephen Scurr, and Gavin's brother, says volumes were light across all growing regions due to warmer conditions than required during the crucial flowering period in winter.

"Most Australian mango varieties are affected this season. Honey Gold quality and size are as good as ever and consistent with what consumers have come to expect," he said. "However, volume is down on last season and previous average seasons. Within the Territory, Darwin’s crop is similar to last season’s, Katherine’s is down a bit and Mataranka’s is up a bit on last year but down a bit overall. We just didn't get the consistent cool nights required for good flowering in any mango growing region - and neither did most growers in northern Australia."

Honey Gold mangoes have yellow-orange, glossy skin and are said to have an intense, punchy, distinctive flavour that resembles honey, hence their name. Gavin added that the weather has not impacted on quality, and consumers can still expect to have good eating and low blemish fruit, especially in the lead up to Christmas.

"From our perspective, the quality comes from attention to detail," Gavin Scurr said. "That means doing the little things throughout the year and being focused on getting our nutrition right, getting our pruning right; so ultimately we are managing the things we can at the right time. That will deliver us a more consistent result."

Photo: Arial view of the NT Honey Gold harvest (Images courtesy of AquaPR and Piñata Farms)

Piñata Farms will harvest the fruit continuously until March - and will start harvesting in Queensland's Bowen region in early December, followed by Burdekin, Rockhampton and Mareeba. Queensland growers produce nearly 70 per cent of the entire Honey Gold crop.

"We will have a reasonably smooth flow of fruit throughout the season, despite being a bit lighter crop-wise," Gavin said. "Leading into Christmas we would have loved to have had more fruit, but we will make the most of what we have got and there will be certainly enough for consumers to find and enjoy. We are already in most stores with good volumes starting to follow from the next week or so."

A contingent of Vanuatu workers employed under the Seasonal Workers Programme was recruited for the Northern Territory harvest.

For more information
Gavin Scurr
Piñata Farms
Phone: +61 7 5497 4295

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