Mango grower recognised for excellent communication and accurate forecasting at Piñata Farms’ annual Honey Gold Congress 

Dan and Alice Rye of Evaldar, Alton Downs, north-west of Rockhampton have been named Honey Gold Grower of the Year by leading producer Piñata Farms. 


Dan and Alice Rye of Evaldar with children Evelyn, 8, Finlay, 6, and Hudson, 4

The pair had no experience in horticulture when they bought the 30-hectare property from Piñata Farms in 2016 and joined a network of some 30 third-party growers producing the premium Honey Gold mango variety. 

Piñata Farms managing director Gavin Scurr said Evaldar received the award for excellent communication before and during the season, as well as accurate forecasting, which was critical to managing supply to the market. 

“Many variables can affect forecasting – from late flowering to weather events – and it can change throughout the season, right up to harvest. Our growers in five states do a great job in managing these variables such as the extreme flooding impacts felt by our North Queensland growers last season,” he said. 

The Ryes entered farming as a lifestyle change and left behind careers in mining services and media to grow the tropical fruit. They have 9,000 Honey Gold trees and last season produced 33,000 trays – about 22 per cent down on the previous season. Their property includes the original tree which produced the first Honey Gold – a natural cross between a Kensington Pride and a Kensington Pride off-type. 

Since acquiring the property, the Ryes have experienced floods and drought but nothing like the serious flooding some of their colleagues around the Mareeba region faced last season. The Far North Queensland region had more than its average annual rainfall of 900mm between mid-December and mid-January, right at harvest time. 

“Fortunately, last season was a lot drier through winter and spring and that contributed to getting a consistent flowering and fruit set,” Dan Rye said. “The lack of rain and fewer spring storms reduced disease pressure. Our season which typically runs for about three weeks was a week or two ahead of our usual window, but otherwise our season was stable.”  

Dan Rye attributed the farm’s forecasting accuracy to having a more consistent flowering than other regions and the practice of taking a high number of samples in the lead-up to the Christmas-New Year harvest. He said it had been a huge learning curve to become growers but there were no regrets. 

“We liked the idea of farming, and the mango industry was certainly an industry that appealed to us. Other local Honey Gold growers and those in the extended Piñata network have generously shared their knowledge of growing mangoes and the nuances of growing the Honey Gold variety, in particular.” 

He said the constant advice he and Alice received was to aim for quality over quantity. 

“We continue to focus on that – from the nutrition programme to pest and disease management,” he said.  

“It’s fantastic to be recognised but we do it because we love it. Our reward is getting good quality mangoes off the trees and into the market. We are also proud to be part of a group which achieved the highest year as a group for quality.” 

The award was announced at Piñata Farms’ annual Honey Gold Congress. This year, more than 45 growers and families convened in Cairns to review the past season and prepare for next season. 

Piñata Farms produces Honey Golds at its own farms in Darwin, Katherine and Mataranka in the Northern Territory in November-December. Third-party growers produce the mangoes in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.