26 Dec This week in fresh produce
Avocado Price Plummets
Permanent Fruit Fly check axed
The Victorian Government is considering a permanent checkpoint for motorists on the Sturt Highway to try to halt the flow of fruit fly into the region. Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh indicated last week that he would ask Treasury for extra funding again this year to tackle Victoria’s fruit fly outbreaks.
There were 116 fruit fly outbreaks in Victoria last season and new flies are now being reported.
There will be a site located permanently on the Sturt Highway that will be manned on a random basis, ensuring travellers know there is a real possibility of being inspected for fruit fly. While still at an early planning stage, the success of random roadblock programs has been proved effective previously.
“What we want to do is have a permanent site that can be operated on a random basis to further increase the effectiveness of the roadblock campaign that we have been running for many years now” said Peter Crisp, Member for Mildura.
Fluorescent melon has a golden glow
A new fluorescent coloured melon has been successfully grown in Queensland. After four years of trials, the Bel Oro melon is now commercially available. Grower Jason Beeston says the sweet melon will be grown in Bundaberg and north Queensland. “It’s Italian for beautiful gold. It’s got a striking appearance when you see it; it’s like a fluorescent, yellowy gold,” he said.
“It’s different from a normal melon. It has a small rind and most melons, as you eat away from the seed cavity, the sugar decreases, with this fruit, the sugars are consistent right to around a quarter of a centimetre from the skin.”
Weather delays stone fruit season
Low temperatures and wet weather has delayed the ripening of stone fruit across the region. Alstonville farmer William Pretorius said ripening was taking longer with daytime temperatures sitting at about 13 to 14 degrees, well below the usual 19 to 20 degrees. “With sustained cool nothing happens; all the trees slow down,” Mr Pretorius said. White-fleshed peaches are normally harvested from the last week in September, but most of the fruit is not ready this year. Nectarines are normally harvested in the last week of October but don’t look like they will be ready until November, with yellow peaches likely to be delayed until late November.
Mr Pretorius has 3000 stone fruit trees producing 7000 to 8000 trays each year. One of the likely effects of the long growing season would be smaller fruit with lower sugar levels and less colour. With growers paid on weight he estimated the financial return this year would be down by 10 to 15%. The Northern Rivers normally supplies early fruit to southern markets. Mr Pretorius said the proposed suspension of insecticide Dimethoate by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) was also a threat to the local stone fruit industry.
The APVMA has proposed to suspend Dimethoate products as an interim regulatory action while it completes further assessments on the chemical used by Northern Rivers stone fruit farmers to control fruit fly. “It’s an over-reaction,” Mr Pretorius said. He said it was hoped something would be developed to take the place of the chemical.