In the Goulburn Valley, with the pear harvest nearly complete, most growers have commented on the excellent quality that’s coming off the trees. Volumes of pears are up by 10–20 per cent in Williams and Packhams and 20–30 per cent in Corella and Buerré Bosc.
Apples across the region are also looking moderate to heavy, although crops are lighter than last season. Some areas in the region have been hit with hail.
Granny Smith crops are variable throughout the state. After last season’s bumper crop in the Goulburn Valley there are lighter blocks of Granny Smith in some areas. Southern Victoria seems to have an ‘on’ crop of Granny Smith that has been chemically thinned well. Gala harvest has been completed, with average crops and reasonable quality depending on strain and heat management within blocks. Harvest dates are between seven and 10 days earlier than last season (note that last season was a late harvest season for pome and stone fruit).
Fruit Growers Victoria Ltd (FGVL) will continue to increase maturity testing of fruit to help growers to harvest at the correct time to ensure our customers have the best eating experience possible. Sugars are definitely well up on last season.
Export is on the agenda with apple and pear growers. Growers need to continue to develop long-term export relationships with current markets. Industry needs to continue to do more to gain market access for our growers.
FGVL recently engaged Sidney Aspland as a field officer to assist with urban fruit fly awareness visits. This season’s visits will help to pinpoint problem urban areas for prevention of fruit fly next season and hopefully decrease pest pressure for growers.
Harvest labour is an ongoing challenge for many growers but this season has started with workable numbers, with growers looking more to seasonal worker schemes to fill the decrease in backpackers. In some areas of southern Victoria, growers need to have their postcodes looked at by the department of immigration for working holiday makers.