Strong finish to navel season
Strong export demand and improved picking conditions have combined to ensure a strong finish to the season, according to Citrus Australia Market Information and Quality Manager, Nathan Hancock.
“Recently collated data showed Washington harvest will have finished last week for most growers in the Riverina and Sunraysia regions, whilst the Riverland has been harvesting late navels for about three weeks,” Nathan said.
The mid-season check of the harvest rate revealed a slight decrease in the estimated national navel crop (down 7% overall), most notably the early and mid-season crop, which was down 8% and 11% respectively.
“Indications from the mid-season survey were that volumes were down in some regions more than others, the estimate for the remaining crop is a 3% decrease in the late navel crop,” Nathan said.
Western Australia bucked the trend with a slight increase (13%) to the estimated late navel total, albeit from a low base.
Across the tri state region, the late navel harvest has commenced. The Riverland has the largest predicted crop and also has the most advanced harvest rate with about 10% of late navel harvest completed.
According to the latest fruit size data gathered from farms across the tri state, the average late navel fruit size is 2-3mm smaller than the 2015 season and close to the midterm average in each region.
“The late navel crop this season is in the prime fruit size range giving marketers more opportunities to match market requirements in more countries,” Nathan said.
All indications are that this will be a further record export season, aided by reduced crops from South Africa, favourable exchange rates across a number of currencies and a season that has produced clean, flavoursome fruit in the ideal size range.