A dry spring allowed the winter strawberry season in south-east Queensland to be extended until November. This differs from a normal season that would usually see excessively hot and humid days put an end to the winter season in October. The above-average temperatures seen in late winter and early spring further ensured that the summer strawberry harvest started earlier than usual.

The late planting of winter strawberry plants meant that earlier volumes were lower than had originally been anticipated. “The dryness experienced in winter aided in the maintenance of berry quality, allowing for more saleable fruit from the fields to supermarkets throughout October,” said Brendon Hoyle from Ashbern Farms, located in Stanthorpe, Queensland

At Ashbern Farms, Brix levels are monitored weekly due to being largely affected by weather conditions. “The ideal growing conditions for strawberries to thrive are sunny days paired with cool nights to allow steady growth to optimize great sweetness and flavor. Depending on summer temperatures, the Brix can be difficult to maintain at high levels.”

Australia’s domestic market for homegrown strawberries has seen a shift due to the current cost of living crisis. Brendon said, “Decreased sales of Premium and Organic strawberry packs are normally earlier indicators that the cost of living is having an impact on retailer spending habits as the conventional 250g packs become more favorable for price.”

With Christmas generally being a high demand period for strawberries it is expected that demand will remain strong domestically as the peak summer strawberry season will run through the New Year.

“The export market for strawberries remains competitive due to production costs in Australia being one of the highest in the world, making it difficult to compete in the global market.”

Ashbern Farm’s short-term strategy is to utilize export markets to reduce the pressure on the local market during peak production periods in summer and winter.

For more information:
Brendon Hoyle
Ashbern Farms Pty Ltd
Tel.: +61 407 670 639
www.ashbernfarms.com.au