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Rain ruins region's mango crops

Poor crop: Hogarth Range mango farmer Mike Coleman has had most of his crop wiped out after heavy spring and summer rains.
Poor crop: Hogarth Range mango farmer Mike Coleman has had most of his crop wiped out after heavy spring and summer rains.

THE big wet has devastated the Northern Rivers mango yield, according to farmer and president of the NSW Mango Growers Association, Mike Coleman.

Ongoing wet weather since late September has wiped out the fruit grown on the properties of 80 of the association’s member.

Many farmers expect to produce no mangoes at all this season.

Mr Coleman, owner of NSW’s largest mango plantation at Hogarth Range, south-west of Casino, with 7500 trees, also expects no fruit will be harvested this year.

“It’s devastating. It’s a disaster,” Mr Coleman said.

“We won’t harvest. We can’t afford to hire people.”

The trouble began with three to four days of wet weather during late spring.

“It hit us at exactly the wrong time,” he said.

The rain affected pollination, which in turn led to low fruit set.

On Mr Coleman’s property it meant fruit was down by 40 to 50 per cent.

“Had there been sunshine we could have pulled through,” he said.

But there has not been the five to six hours of clear daylight required for the fruit to mature and develop.

Furthermore, heavy rainfall over the past few days has seen most of the fruit on Mr Coleman’s property fall on the ground.

Mr Coleman said he did a lot of extra work to try to save the fruit, such as spraying almost weekly to stop fungus, but his efforts were in vain.

It comes in stark contrast to last season when the Northern Rivers experienced one of its best harvests for years.

Northern Territory and Queensland growers also were reporting lower yields this season due to high rainfall, with some Queensland growers being affected by continuing flooding.

This is reflected in the prices.

“Normally mangoes are $1 to $1.50 at this time of year, but you are still paying about $3 for a mango at the moment,” Mr Coleman said.

The farm is the Coleman family’s main source of income, and the loss of the entire crop means they will struggle financially this year.

“We won’t be able to afford to eat until next year,” Mr Coleman said.

Mr Coleman said he would now look to next year and hoped the weather would be on his side.

The Northern Rivers mango harvest begins in February and ends in April, with the final harvest marketed as ‘nature’s Easter eggs’.

Northern Rivers mangoes attract a premium of about 50 per cent because the fruit grown in the region matures at a time when the mango season in Queensland, the largest supplier to the Australian market, has finished.



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