Most producers in the area were well into harvesting their Cripps Pink crops at the time of writing.
Reflective silver paper under them was a common sight at that time. Onset of maturity was still roughly a week earlier than last season. Temperatures only started cooling off towards the middle of April, giving some convincing colouring. Up until this cooler weather, thermometer readings had been higher than average, particularly for the minimum temperatures. The autumn period had been particularly dry, with recent isolated thundershowers gracing a few producers with good rain and settling the dust for a few days or so. New cultivars in production in the area are on the rise; however, the general talk was still that the crops harvested to date had been down on yield predictions.
This season has seen a reduction in casual labour availability in the area, raising a fair amount of concern. Competition for good-quality workers exists mainly with strawberry producers as their season can be simultaneous to the apple picking season. Generally, the quality of backpackers this season has been identified as another issue, with inexperienced working-holiday makers coming to their first jobs on farms creating an extra training requirement and burden for producers. There is no doubt that alternative options for casual labour will be explored into the future.
The Border Rivers and Moonie: consultation on draft water plans and supporting documents has become available and shows all the developments in the water status of the area. As a part of this, the Emu Swamp Dam has progressed with local bodies after many years of reporting. The final report for the proposal will be complete by the end of the year. Ultimately this will give direction into what will happen to unallocated water in the area. Whichever way this ends up, as long as it is ecologically responsible and economically viable, the availability of any extra water to primary producers and to local townships will mean more jobs and extra income for the area.