Burnett citrus growers are preparing for a busy season ahead, with the fruit almost mature and ready to pick. Despite the fact that the fruit will be a mixed bag in terms of look, buyers can rest confident that there’ll be plenty of ready-to-eat product. Although some fruit may appear faulty owing to hail damage, Gayndah Packers manager Brent Chambers claims that this will not detract from the fantastic taste. “In terms of quality, we’re dealing with producers that have suffered hail damage, as well as storm damage, which affects quality,” he said. “Other growers who haven’t been harmed have produced some very excellent, clean fruit.” “People don’t always want to buy fruit that is marked up, but I will say that when you grab a piece of fruit, it doesn’t matter what it looks like on the exterior.” “It has that natural protective layer on it, and then you peel it off and eat it.” “So, it’d be good if people walked in and purchased something that didn’t always seem completely flashy.”
While particular figures aren’t available, Mr Chambers stated that the industry is anticipating a higher-than-average volume year. Mr Chambers expressed optimism that this season would be beneficial for growers, especially following a difficult period in recent years due to COVID. “In terms of our shed, we picked on a few new growers, which has been fantastic,” he added. “That has helped us move along a little bit better, and we will be full swing into our season this week.” “I’m hoping that the pricing point will remain stable, allowing producers to satisfy their needs. With cafes disappearing and companies opening and closing all the time, some items, such as lemons and limes, have been tough to come by during COVID.
“So, certainly, I hope that people will remain open and that we can continue to be active. That is most likely the most important factor.” Fruit pickers are in great demand this season, with an above-average volume of citrus predicted, but there are multiple issues driving growers to see a labour shortage. Mr Chambers said a lack of accommodation in the North Burnett has also made it difficult for labourers to migrate into the area for the picking season. COVID had a significant influence on the citrus business, resetting all markets and limiting export options. Mr Chambers, on the other hand, expressed optimism that the markets would remain healthy enough for export varieties to be sent to China, Canada, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam from July to September.