Smaller crop, better price for citrus growers

CITRUS growers in Gayndah are about halfway through picking a harvest that has been affected by floods, drought then a disfiguring fungus.

Gayndah Packers Co-op marketing manager Werner Tonsing said the fungus affected fruit picked early in the season.

"It was very dry up to a few weeks before the harvest started," he said.

"Then we had some rain, and that set off the fungus."

The fungus, identified as anthracnose, meant that when the fruit was picked, de-greened and packed, the skin went black.

Mr Tonsing said the fungus caused a lot of problems for growers.

But he said there were ups and downs in the weather's effect on the harvest.

Volumes were down this harvest, but that meant prices were up.

Prices now were between $18 and $24 a box for mandarins.

It also meant growers could save on spraying.

"We could see early in the season where there just wasn't any fruit on the trees," he said.

"Once you see the trees with hardly any fruit you can spray less."

Riverton Orchard co-owner Narelle Emmerton said the crop was 200 to 300 bins down on previous years.

She said it was due to the combination of floods and the drought.

"We didn't get as good a set as we usually do because we had a late frost," she said.

Mrs Emmerton said while their imperial mandarins and lemon crops were good, they had lost a lot of their murcotts.

She said a lot of their crop had blemishes on their skins because of the weather.

"We just have to get it past the consumers that there's nothing wrong with the fruit, it's just a blemish," she said.

Mrs Emmerton said because the yields were down the prices of the fruit were staying good.

"We're getting $18-$20 for firsts and $12-$16 for seconds," she said.



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