Continuing rains over the past month have resulted in a tough start to Victoria's cherry and berry season. Growers have been struggling against poor-quality and dying trees, as well as boggy orchards. Wet conditions have led to boggy ground, making it hard to get machinery onto the orchards for maintenance.
Due to a short supply of quality fruit, prices have been going up in supermarkets. One grower said: "Cherries are selling at a fairly premium price at the moment. From what I'm hearing all around, prices are up because of short supply. I think overall, as long as we don't have too much wet weather between now and Christmas, we'll be OK. Just OK."
Gippsland's berry season has also been delayed due to wet weather and damaged fruit. The owner of South's Sunny Creek Organic Berry Farm in Trafalgar, Cathie Taylor, said picking would be pushed back three weeks and would not start until the week before Christmas.
Ms Taylor said in the lead-up to Christmas there was always a huge demand for raspberries and blackberries, and due to the shortage prices would go up. She said many of the berries starting to come out were suffering from hail damage.
"Every day that it's very wet, you can't pick, so instead of the raspberries ending up in the wholesale market at a premium price, they end up in the freezer as jam grade," Ms Taylor said.