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New cherry orchards to Blossom in Tasmanian highlands

A section of Tasmania’s dry southern Midlands will soon be transformed into a lush cherry orchard thanks to a new irrigation project and state-of-the-art greenhouse.

An extensive irrigation scheme throughout Tasmania has paved the way for cherries to be grown more extensively throughout the state. While the Derwent and Huon valleys has become famous around the world for their cherries, many parts of Tasmania have been too dry to set up new orchards. The new orchard which will be planted at an elevation of between 400-450m will also mean that the harvest will be one of the latest in the southern hemisphere.

The state’s multi-million irrigation scheme is set to change that, giving cherry growers an opportunity to expand to new regions. Tasmania’s biggest cherry grower, Reid Fruits, is also one of the first to take advantage of the newly irrigated land, with development well underway for a 36 hectare orchard that includes a massive, state-of-the-art greenhouse.

Reid’s Marketing and Business Development Manager Lucy Gregg says the greenhouse includes a retractable roof that will protect the cherries against adverse weather conditions.

“The cherry trees will be grown with the roof open, except in adverse conditions, such as frost, hail, rain and maybe excessively windy, hot days. Summer rain is one of highest risks and the greenhouse will allow us to protect the crop during the damaging rains. Also the southern midlands location is noted for being dry in summer and is often rain free during either westerly or easterly weather patterns.”

She says the greenhouse will be one of the first built predominantly for climate control in cherries and should lead to greater seasonal yields and packouts.

“We certainly think the quality of the cherries – given the reduction in adverse weather events – will be better.”

The greenhouse itself will make up 4 hectares of the new orchard, and the whole project will bring Reid Fruits’ total planting area in Tasmania close to 140 hectares.

Development of the greenhouse and surrounding land should be completed by autumn or winter 2016, in time for planting of late season varieties.

“The aim of going to a higher elevation is for late cherries, so it will be predominantly late varieties that we grow,” Ms Gregg says, with the expectation that there will be strong global demand.

“Because we’ll be going in mid to late February and many of the other cherry orchard districts are finished by then, we expect demand will be high not only in Asia but in Europe as well.”

For more information:
Lucy Greg
Reid Fruits
Tel: +61 408977725

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