NORTH Queensland avocado growers are eyeing off a bumper crop this season – the best on record – on the back of huge expansion in plantings.
Avocados Australia chairman and north Queensland director Jim Kochi, an Atherton grower, said harvesting of the Shepard variety had started about three weeks ago, to be followed by the Hass harvest in April through to June.
“We are looking at somewhere between 1.8 million to 2 million trays out of north Queensland for the season,” Mr Kochi said.
“A couple of years ago we had 1.6 million couple so we are steadily increasing in production here from new plantings coming on.”
Mr Kochi said the quality of the crop looked good.
“We’ve had a dry year which helps us along a bit,” Mr Kochi said.
“We do need rain but if it comes at the wrong time it can interfere with picking, but that’s life in the tropics.”
Mr Kochi said north Queensland avocados competed against product from Bundaberg, the industry’s largest growing region, for market share.
“There is still some Hass coming out of Western Australia onto Australian market and still some New Zealand avocados too,” Mr Kochi said.
“At the moment price is good – we hope it will hold and that will be the trick. It’s a comination of how much the consumer likes avocados and what they are prepared to buy and what is supplied to the market. If we get oversupply, then prices may change.”
Mr Kochi said marketing had been a long term investment for the industry.
“Avocado growers pay considerable levies and have twice agreed to pay a levy, the second time to increase it which is unusual in the horticulture industries.”