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Western Australia's summer mango season is already over

October 29, 2015 - 1:31PM

Emma Young

Remember that recent flush of mangoes? Well it wasn't, it was the entire season. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Perth must prepare itself for disaster this summer, but it won't be a tsunami, cyclone or an invasion of the walking dead.

Brace yourselves, the mango shortage is coming.

Grocery shoppers who ignored the recent flush are going to be sorely disappointed to know that was not a bumper early delivery. That was the mango season.

From here on in, shoppers can expect to pay up to $5 for the local fruit still to come or, alternatively, radiation-bathed Queensland imports.

Market City wholesaler John Mercer said it remains a meteorological mystery as to why crops came early this year across Australia's Top End.

He said trees in Kununurra, Darwin and Katherine had flowered a month early - and the fruit that followed was weak.

In Canarvon, crops had not bounced back from the effects of Cyclone Olwyn earlier this year.

Mr. Mercer said the season was effectively over in WA – some mangoes from a second flowering could hit shops mid-November, but heat and rain would render them small crops, some not even worth picking.

"In Darwin there are many growers already finished too but the rest will mainly send their fruit to the east coast – the market is stronger, and fruit follows money,"  he said.

Mr Mercer said wholesalers could get mangoes from Queensland but they had to be irradiated to protect WA from the seed weevil, and though this did not affect the fruit itself, it was not the most attractive option when combined with astronomical freight costs, which would be passed on through the supply chain.

Altogether, he said, their scarcity this summer would mean that a seven-kilogram tray, normally wholesaling for $20-$30, would now fetch $50-$60.

This means shoppers could expect to pay $3 to $5 for a single fruit.

"Some growers won't even pick their second crop because it won't be good enough quality,"  Mr. Mercer said.

"Those without any fruit will be in trouble. Those with it will be laughing all the way to the bank."

One place which relies on mangoes is small-batch distillery, Kununnurra Hoochery.

However, learning from a poor 2013 season, manager Kalyn Fletcher said they bought up big on mangoes in 2014, making enough of its mango liqueur to last through 2015 and beyond. 

"We made a heap," Ms. Fletcher said. 

"To soak the fruit in alcohol and produce that naturally-flavoured product takes a lot of heart and love, as well as months to produce a tiny batch - but it's awesome and now we have the inventory to last."

The Shenton Park Dogs Refuge Home and the Cat Haven have not been so lucky, forced to cancel their annual mango fundraiser, which they hoped would raise up to $7000.

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