A SMASHING avocado season is predicted for Far North growers, as they gear up for another record-breaking harvest.
Growers in Mareeba, Dimbulah and Atherton Tablelands are preparing to harvest their crop within the next fortnight, with record yields expected as the region takes over central Queensland as the prime growing area.
Atherton grower and Avocados Australia chairman, Jim Kochi said he expected over 4 million trays would be picked in the north alone.
Last year, the region produced about 4.5 million trays, which was a 30 per cent increase on the year prior.
Mr Kochi said new and established growers increasing their plantations had contributed to the boom, with avocado production in Australia more than doubling in just five years.
“North Queensland is now surpassing the Bundaberg and central Queensland production areas and we will know by just how much this year because we’re starting to get the first off the new plantings,” Mr Kochi said.
Sheperds would come off first on the Tablelands, before the Hass variety reaches maturity.
Mr Kochi said the weather on the Tablelands was likely to impact on the season.
“I think the average will be variable around Mareeba, it depends on how much particular growers in their locality have been impacted by cold weather during flowering or the excessive heat in November, for the Sheperd variety. For Hass around the Atherton area its going to be a better than average crop.”
Mr Kochi said the November heatwave may lead to reduced fruit size due to heat stress on trees. He said some fruit may also have sunburn and will get graded out.
“The effect is a smaller fruit size is going to reduce the number of trays a grower might take off the property.”
Mr Kochi said fine weather with some cloud, no heavy rain or cyclones and intermittent showers were the ideal growing conditions.
”Avocados, being a very shallow rooted tree, don’t like to be waterlogged, so they don’t like heavy rain, which thankfully with the cyclone events and tropical lows, we’ve managed to avoid this season. Though it has put water in Tinaroo Dam, bringing up levels for the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation area.”
Mr Kochi said avocado quality should be high.
“Dry weather means we will have the chance of a clean crop this year, which should help us have a quality product through the supply chain and on to shelves.”
Australia’s avocado production was 77,000 tonnes in 2017/18, with the industry on track to produce 115,000 tonnes a year by 2025.