The weather in Tasmania was cold and overcast a lot through late November and December which delayed the start of the cherry harvest by about a week to 10 days.
Tasmanian cherry grower Reid Fruits started picking cherries in the first week of December with some small volumes of a Japanese variety which they grow exclusively for a long term partner and customer in Japan. This was followed by some small volumes of new early season varieties Simcoe and Samba to pack prior to Christmas. They started picking the main varieties straight after Christmas and have been in full swing since.
“We packed the early varieties mainly for the domestic market which was very strong in the lead up to Christmas due to the shortage of fruit from mainland Australia which had been heavily affected by adverse weather and rain. We did also do a couple of exports shipments with these early varieties though as a trial for the future when we will have more volume,” said Tony Coad, Marketing and Sales Manager.
Reid Fruits’ volumes are similar to last year. The company will harvest and pack around 2,500 tonnes with 1,500 tonnes coming from their Redlands Orchard at Plenty in the Derwent Valley and the balance from orchards in the Huon Valley, followed by the late season orchard at Jericho in the Tasmanian midlands which is at higher elevation and will mature later which will run through until mid-February.
Tony said that in the last two weeks it has been fantastic warm weather so the quality of the fruit being packed is some of the best they have seen in years.
“We have not really had any weather issues to deal with, due to its location our orchard in the Derwent Valley largely escaped the big wet which affected so much of the mainland Australian crop. We did suffer some rain damage on the Huon Valley orchards but it’s really not too bad.”
All of Reid Fruits’ orchards are netted for protection from birds, wind and hail.
They have a four hectare block at the Jericho orchard which is covered by a Cravo retractable roof greenhouse which automatically closes for rain protection and opens again when the weather is fine.
“We are expanding trials with rain covers in our Huon Valley orchards and will be looking to cover more of our orchards in the future with some exciting developments on the horizon with new generation rain covers which will be more efficient to use and offer some less adverse effects on fruit quality than some existing rain covers during hot weather.”
The early Chinese New Year has really worked out perfectly for the company’s exports this season, although the main season was a bit late getting started the good weather in the last 2-3 weeks has been great for ripening the fruit so harvest at the Derwent Valley orchard finished at the weekend just in time to ship for CNY and the harvest in the Huon Valley orchard will continue this week through until end Jan.
“The domestic market was exceptional before Christmas due to the shortage of mainland cherries and whilst it has come back a bit in the last week or two with some later mainland crops coming on, the domestic market is really still pretty good all things considered. We also expect the domestic market will get a bit of a “kick” late next week just before CNY.”
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