Unseasonal rain wreaks havoc
A locally grown Christmas favourite will be in short supply this year after unseasonal rains caused havoc for many South West cherry growers.
Recent rains have caused the popular stone fruit to split, and combined with a warm, damp winter which made it difficult for the fruit to set, this year’s crop is expected to be half the size of last year’s.
Growers predict less than 200 tonnes of cherries will be harvested in WA this season, compared with the 450 tonnes produced in the Perth Hills and South West last year.
Cherry Growers Association president Gary Fergusson said early varieties had been heavily affected.
‘‘The early stuff is not too flash because the fruit has gotten no chance to ripen, much of it has just been split by rain which means it’s unsaleable,’’ he said.
‘‘The rain means you’ve got to constantly get the spray out, it’s like winter here at the moment and we need the sunshine to draw the sugars out.’’
Cherry prices are expected to remain below $20 a kilo despite the poor season, with South Australian cherries to be trucked in to meet demand.
Fruit West stone fruit representative Mark Wilkinson said the rain had also affected the skin finish of apricots and nectarines.
Bunbury has experienced its wettest start to November since 1986, with 22.8mm falling on the city as of yesterday afternoon.
The city’s average rainfall for the month is 26mm.
Weather Bureau climate information officer John Relf described the past week’s weather conditions as a winter flashback.
‘‘A winter-style cold front has contributed to Bunbury having its wettest start to November in 25 years,’’ Mr Relf said.
The recent falls bring this year’s rainfall to 722mm compared with the 11-month average of 826.8mm.
Showers are predicted to return on Saturday.
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