Mango industry remains on track for bumper season

Despite the high volumes of mangoes being dispatched to market, the season will not run any longer than usual according to the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA).

Seasons have already wrapped up in the north of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, with Queensland, New South Wales and southern regions of Western Australia still harvesting. The industry representative body's CEO Robert Gray says volume has consistently exceeded forecasts all the way along.

"It started in Darwin, then Katherine, Mataranka and it’s flowed on to Queensland in Bowen, Burdekin and now Mareeba," he said. "They are all up by about 15 to 20 per cent on what they initially forecast. That trend is continuing and we are expecting that to continue again in Southern Queensland. I don't think it is going to go any longer. We certainly started earlier but all the forecast finish dates are the same. So pretty much by the end of February the bulk of the crop will be gone, but there will be small volumes out of Southern Western Australia (Gingin), South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria into March. But it won't be any longer than last year."

He says a number of conditions have contributed to the increase in volume, particularly the trees getting older and good flowering, as well as the weather.

"We have seen Calypso and Honey Gold varieties maturing and they’ve had a big increase in supply," Mr Gray said. "There have been very favourable growing conditions, so people have got better yields and sizing on their fruit than what they have had in previous years."

There was concern earlier this year over the Bowen/Burdekin region after Cyclone Debbie caused major damage across farming properties. Mr Gray says it is a big 'relief' for the industry as a whole to see a good volume of fruit coming out of that region.

"In some instances, one side of the trees were very damaged," he said. "Farmers were gearing up for, at best, half a crop. But the trees have responded really well, and not only made up for what they may have lost, but in some cases growers have had more volume than expected. Then you add that to the younger trees coming in, that's what gave them their increase in the Bowen region. The growers have really ridden a rollercoaster from May until now—expecting little but ending up with a reasonable crop."

But all eyes will now be on the southern areas of the state, with some individual reports of lower crops than previous years due to the warmer winter weather, followed by several heavy rain events across November and December. Despite this, the AMIA says there is not expected to be any major effects to overall figures.

"They did get a lot of rain pre-Christmas, but we have some pretty favourable growing conditions since then," Mr Gray said. "It's really this month up to and including harvest that has a big impact on final fruit quality and whether they have to downgrade fruit. But at this stage it's looking promising in Southern Queensland."

The AMIA says there is still potential for counter seasonal crops in the southern states, despite major Victorian produce company Seven Fields suffering major damage due to frosts.

"There is always a need to manage frosts in those late dry areas," Mr Gray said. "My understanding is there is a range of measures that people are trying in that part of the world; from fully covered cropping where the whole orchard is covered in netting, helping to keep the temperatures from freezing. To selected sites that are a little higher, with better drainage to minimise frost, and people are even using wind fans. They certainly have the capacity for late flowering but the issue is keeping trees alive."

Mr Gray noted the Gingin area in Western Australia produces fruit later, but that it is close enough to the coast to escape the frost, and has potential to extend the season in future years.

For more information:

Robert Gray
Australian Mango Industry Association
Phone: +61 7 3278 3755

Publication date: 1/10/2018
Author: Matthew Russell