Pemberton avocado and berry farmers lose $30K worth in storm

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times

More than $30,000 worth of berry and avocado produce was wiped out overnight in Pemberton as a result of a savage storm earlier this month.

The storm on May 5, which recorded winds of about 80km/h, was strong enough to tear avocado trees from the ground.

Berry Sweet Strawberry Farm on Channybearup Road had 25 to 30 tunnels damaged from winds.

Manager Dougy Savage said while the damage was fixed within five days, there was a lot of fruit lost, totalling about $30,000.

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“The day before the storm, we picked about 1000 trays of fruit and the day after, we picked about 375 trays,” he said.

We lost the equivalent of about 500-600 trays in that storm and at about $50 a tray, that’s a lot.

Dougy Savage

Despite the loss, Mr Savage said it was something the business could get over quickly.

“It was a couple days detriment but you expect it a little bit in this region,” he said.

“We usually get a storm like this once a year, but at least it is not prime picking season.

“When you get weather like that, it’s like walking down the street with an umbrella in bad weather, things get upturned.”

Pemberton avocado grower Stewart Ipsen.
Camera IconPemberton avocado grower Stewart Ipsen. Credit: IAIN GILLESPIE/WA News, Iain Gillespie. . Picture: IAIN GILLESPIE

West Pemberton Avocados manager Stewart Ipsen said his business lost several hundred trees across several newer orchards.

He said that because they were younger trees, there was not much avocado fruit lost.

“We haven’t done the final tally yet across the farms, but for every tree, that’s $30 lost,” he said.

We’ve had damage caused by weather in the past, but not to this extent. It’s always disappointing when it happens, but we’re dealing with the weather and elements.

Stewart Ipsen

Mr Ipsen said he would be replacing the lost trees once the overall damage cost was worked out.

Manjimup growers mostly escaped damage as a result of bad winds this month, according to the Southern Forests Food Council.

Manjimup avocado grower Doug Pow said he only lost two small avocado trees, which could have easily been explained by faulty roots.

“There was a lot of fruit on the ground, but its effect is negligible,” he said.

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