‘Erratic’ season a mixed bag for farmers

Holly ThompsonManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Manjimup farmer Bevan Eatts with a selection of the plums he has picked ready to send to stores.
Camera IconManjimup farmer Bevan Eatts with a selection of the plums he has picked ready to send to stores.

The plum season has started across the South West and farmers are dealing with a lighter crop this year due to weather conditions during the spring ripening season.

Manjimup farmer Bevan Eatts said one of his earlier plum varieties did not have a crop on it at all due to the weather.

“We are carrying a 75 per cent crop on all the other varieties we have left, but one variety probably has the strongest crop we have ever seen, so this year’s growing season is proving to be a little erratic,” Mr Eatts said.

“This strong crop has come from the Angelino plums which we will pick in late March, they have set really heavy and hopefully we can export a few of those.”

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He said the export market had also been unpredictable, with the South African market influencing Australia in a big way.

“There were exports which went earlier than usual this year to keep some crop away from the domestic market and keep prices strong,” he said.

“South Africa has recently entered into the export market and that earlier window for Australian exports closed up due to the fact South Africa is dropping a lot of fruit into the international market at about $1 per kilogram.”

Overall Mr Eatts said the season started about two to three weeks late but was now starting to catch up to where it should be.

“Around Christmas, the price for stone fruit was really strong but it has probably come back a bit now and are now between $1.50 and $6 per kilogram for plums,” he said.

“Realistically the prices have now settled at about $3 per kilogram.”

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