Storage shelter infrastructure will be more necessary for cherry growers this year, as the crop harvest volume would reach between 16,000 tonnes and 18,000 tonnes in 2017, according to Cherry Growers of Australia (CGA).
CGA President Tom Eastlake said that the estimated range will happen “almost certainly” and if it does, it will surpass the nationwide record of around 15,000 tonnes.
Prices for cherries may still not fall significantly, despite the expected record volume. However, Eastlake said that a huge harvest ensures enough supply to meet growing demand, particularly in mid-December. Many Australians typically look for cherry as an ingredient for Christmas dishes.
A bumper season for cherry production normally results in lower prices, although it may not happen for 2017, according to Eastlake. Export volumes serve as one reason since record levels are expected for this year, which would maintain cherry prices between $14 and $20 just like in recent years, he added. CGA recently added two markets in Vietnam and China for cherry exports.
While prospects for cherry harvest this year seem bright, Australian farmers find it challenging to protect their crops from wet weather. In New South Wales, for instance, heavy rainfall causes cherries to have cracks that will then make them unsuitable for sale, according to NSW Department of Primary Industries Adam Coleman.
Coleman said that some farmers have used tractor-mounted air blowers and helicopters to prevent moisture from orchards. Still, the department expects the new export market in Vietnam to be a silver lining for any crop losses due to heavy rainfall. In China, a new access market would be accessible before the end of 2017-2018 harvest season in Australia, Coleman added.
Farmers can only do so much to protect their crops from damages before the start of the harvest season, so it is important to plan on how picked cherries will be stored whether for domestic sale or export.