Alstonville stone fruit grower William Pretorius expects that the financial return on locally grown stone fruit will be down, owing to the cold, wet weather resulting in smaller fruit with less sugar and colour.
Alstonville stone fruit grower William Pretorius expects that the financial return on locally grown stone fruit will be down, owing to the cold, wet weather resulting in smaller fruit with less sugar and colour. Doug Eaton

Weather delays stone fruit season

LOW temperatures and wet weather has delayed the ripening of stone fruit across the region.

Alstonville farmer William Pretorius said ripening was taking longer with daytime temperatures sitting at about 13 to 14 degrees, well below the usual 19 to 20 degrees.

"With sustained cool nothing happens; all the trees slow down," Mr Pretorius said.

White-fleshed peaches are normally harvested from the last week in September, but most of the fruit is not ready this year.

Nectarines are normally harvested in the last week of October but don't look like they will be ready until November, with yellow peaches likely to be delayed until late November.

Mr Pretorius has 3000 stone fruit trees producing 7000 to 8000 trays each year.

One of the likely effects of the long growing season would be smaller fruit with lower sugar levels and less colour.

With growers paid on weight he estimated the financial return this year would be down by 10 to 15%.

The Northern Rivers normally supplies early fruit to southern markets.

Mr Pretorius said the proposed suspension of insecticide Dimethoate by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) was also a threat to the local stone fruit industry.

The APVMA has proposed to suspend Dimethoate products as an interim regulatory action while it completes further assessments on the chemical used by Northern Rivers stone fruit farmers to control fruit fly.

"It's an over-reaction," Mr Pretorius said.

He said it was hoped something would be developed to take the place of the chemical.



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