THE Far North Queensland avocado season has smashed all records with the highest production to date.
Growers in the Mareeba, Dimbulah and Atherton Tableland areas yielded the most fruit ever during their season from February to June, with the peak industry body saying a combination of new growers and trees bearing fruit for the first time contributed to the numbers.
Atherton grower and Avocados Australia chairman, Jim Kochi said north Queensland production this year came in at about 4.5 million trays, which was a 30 per cent increase on last year.
“It has been a very good season, a record year,” Mr Kochi said.
He said combined with fruit from the central Queensland growing region, which dispatched over two million trays during their season that ran into August, production was up 40pc on last year.
While consumers benefited from the abundance of quality fruit, it lead to lower prices for growers.
“It’s nice for the consumer, with the combined production out of north Queensland and the central Queensland area, the increase accounted for a lower end of prices during the season,” Mr Kochi said.
Mr Kochi said during the peak of the season, prices reduced from about $35 a tray for premium fruit to about $23.
“It got to the low $20s by June, which was of concern to some growers as it is close to the cost of production,” he said.
Mr Kochi said while supply was high, there was not an oversupply as consumers were still purchasing the fruit.
“It shows if the prices become more reasonable for the consumer, they respond by taking up the product.
“With some commodities, if the prices drop it doesn’t necessarily mean the consumer buys more, but with avocados that’s not the case.”
Mr Kochi said the industry would need to ensure consumer demand for avocados matched the increased numbers.
“People have been encouraged to expand their holdings or to plant new holdings and with new growers coming in it all adds to the volume we have now, so going forward we have to take measures to market avocados to be able to handle that volume.”
Mr Kochi said quality was very good this season due to weather conditions.
“We had a dry year coming up to harvest, with one belt of rain in February, and the quality was very good.
“We had a good harvest season because we didn’t have rain and drizzle right through – when we have that it knocks the quality around.”
Mr Kochi said growers were hoping for rain leading in to next year.
“The trees are flowering and it’s an important time for us, so we’re irrigating like crazy trying to keep up with the higher temperatures and low humidity.
“The trees need water and we can’t skimp on that.”