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Storms in Northern Territory and north Queensland downgrade the national mango crop for 2015/16












By Eliza Rogers




Posted yesterday at 7:28pm
















This season's national mango crop has been revised down 800,000 trays after storms lashed key growing regions.




Damage in Northern Territory and north Queensland orchards reduced the crop to 7.2 million trays, far below the lofty heights of last year's record 9.5 million.



And with more mangoes heading for export markets, it means a tighter market and stronger prices for growers with fruit to sell.





   














Queensland, which will make up about half of the country's crop, lost an estimated 300,000 trays of fruit in the Burdekin region to late spring storms.





Peter Le Feuvre, who farms at Giru, lost up to half his crop and even some gum trees in just half an hour when heavy winds and rains hit his farm a few weeks ago.




"You can see here there's a couple of fruit that's been blown off, you notice they're almost rotted away now,"
he said of the damage.

"It looked like someone had just shaken the trees and the mangoes all fell on the ground."

He estimated a gross sale loss of $1 million, but said some nearby growers were worse off, losing up to 90 percent of their crop.







And he predicted it would also be a setback to the local economy.




"It's going to have a flow-on effect to the rest of the community because we won't need as many packers in the shed and the pickers won't make as much money, there won't be as much freight," Mr. Le Feuvre said.




Cooler growing period reduces yield, lengthens season



The storms revised down what was an already lower yield than last season.




Boyd Arthur, from the Australian Mango Industry Association, said some trees were in a natural lower production year, and that a cooler flowering period had reduced yield.



Those conditions also brought the harvest forward a month, which Boyd Arthur said posed challenges for the industry.



He said a longer harvest made it harder for growers to minimise labour costs and maintain core staff during picking, and meant the industry had to communicate strongly with the market.





"We've had to work really hard at engaging retailers earlier, [for] an earlier start to the season, and probably a later finish, so it's been quite a challenge... but we're working quite well at that."




He said that close engagement was key to keeping the price strong for growers, which was sitting up to $40 for a tray of premium fruit.





"That really involves communication on volumes and when it's going to come to the markets to really get retailers on board in putting out their promotions around the larger quantities so we can move fruit really clearly through the system,"  Mr. Boyd said.




Another factor helping stabilise prices was a rise in exports this season.



Two major Bowen growers recently sent 10 tonnes of mangoes to Hong Kong on the first cargo flight out of Toowoomba, and more fruit is destined for the new US market.




Mr Arthur said that would help equalise supply and demand in the domestic market.





"If we relieve some of the volume off the market when there's big volumes ... it's like a little overflow valve that really supports our growers,"
he said.




"It's very exciting we're heading to the US again, I think it's this week coming, from Townsville, from Manbulloo, and we're really excited about opening up more market access."




Those trade developments are hoped to encourage growers to start planting more trees and feed more fruit into the export trade.





The major far north Queensland harvest, which will account for 2.4 million of the state's 3.5 million trays this season, will ramp up harvest in the next fortnight and is expected to continue through to March.











http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-02/mango-crop-down-after-storm-damage/6993558



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