Tasmanian cherry exporters are restructuring their export programmes in the lead-up to Chinese New Year, following rain damage to crops in the key Huon Valley production hub last week.
Howard Hansen of leading grower-packer-exporter Hansen Orchards said only 5 per cent of his Huon Valley crop had been harvested prior to last week’s wet whether, which peaked with a severe 80mm downpour on Tuesday night.
“A lot of our blocks in the Huon have lost 50-70 per cent of their fruit, which means it’s just not economically viable to go through and do a pick on these blocks,” Hansen told Asiafruit. “Around 40 per cent of our crop is in the Huon, so we’ll likely finish our season a little earlier than expected.”
In more positive news for the industry, cherry production in the nearby Derwent Valley appears to have survived relatively unscathed, with Hansen using low-flying helicopters to dry out his crop in this region.
“We had some rain fall in the Derwent but for the sake of our export programmes we’re pretty thankful that there was virtually no damage there,” Hansen explained. “We will aim to distribute our reduced crop as evenly as we can, in order to provide support to our loyal customers who have supported us so well over the years.”
While the inclement weather has been a curse for the Huon region’s cherry production, Phil Pyke of Fruit Growers Tasmania said other crops had prospered from the increased rainfall.
“A lot of the smaller cherry growers in the Huon Valley were in their final weeks of packing so they did not loose out too much,” Pyke explained. “On the other hand, the rain has been a huge welcome for apple growers in the region, as it has broken a run of long, hot days. A number of the bigger cherry growers in the area also have apple crops, so the rain has taken with one hand and given with the other.”