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AUSTRALIA : Mango quality in focus as growers prepare for bumper harvest

ABC Rural By Carmen Brown

Updated 19 Aug 2014, 2:52pmTue 19 Aug 2014, 2:52pm

PHOTO: Northern Territory growers are expected to produce around 4 million trays of mangoes this year (Carmen Brown)
MAP: Katherine 0850

The Northern Territory mango industry is ramping up its quality control efforts, as growers prepare to harvest an estimated four million trays of fruit from early October.

Growers and packers are being encouraged to take part in a face-to-face survey, initiated by the NT Department of Primary Industry, to help identify practices which lower fruit quality standards.

"We're looking at between three and four million trays, which is quite a bit up on last year"

Ross Maxwell, NT Mango Industry Association

With premium prices on offer for early-season mangoes, some growers have been tempted to send immature and poor quality fruit to southern markets in recent years.

President of the NT Mango Growers Association, Ross Maxwell, says the practice is damaging the industry's reputation with consumers, but he's hopeful the survey will help address the problem areas.

"The idea of this survey is to identify the type of grower we've got out there and what's happening in the industry,"
he said.

"There are some particularly good growers, and some ordinary growers out there that we've got, so we're trying to identify those areas and hopefully spread the information from the good growers to the people that are struggling a little bit.

"It's all anonymous, no-one will find out, I'll never find out who grows the best mango or the worst mango in the Northern Territory."

The 2013 mango season was one of the worst on record in the Northern Territory, following a failed wet-season and warm dry-season conditions.

Mr Maxwell says favourable weather over the past few months has resulted in strong flowering across the Top End, and with only weeks until harvest begins, he expects mango production could double this year.

"At this point, we're looking at between three and four million trays, which is quite a bit up on last year, which was 2.2 million trays,"
he said.

"So it has definitely lifted up the number this year, and I think the quality will go up too.

"It's a surprising fact that higher numbers that we produce seems to relate to better quality coming out of the Northern Territory.

"Last year was one of those years we are all trying to forget, it was just the worst year we've ever had, but this is the nature of mangoes, you'll have a bad year followed by a good year.

"This year everyone is a lot more optimistic."

First posted 19 Aug 2014, 1:35pm

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