It all depends on the rain

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

Weather can mean the difference between a bountiful crop and no crop at all.

Last month an isolated thunderstorm brought hail which nearly wiped out about 35 hectares of Newton Bros Orchards’ apples.

Now rain, forecast for coming weeks, could threaten cherry crops.

Newton Bros Orchards owner Harvey Giblett said excessive rain could cause cherries to crack which makes them unmarketable.

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“Last year was a good year, ” he said. “We had virtually no rain to spoil the cherries, and so far we haven’t had too much, but you never know.”

The Gibletts’ 180-hectare Manjimup orchard produces about 4000 tonnes of apples each year and they are expecting to harvest about 15 tonnes of cherries this season.

The Manjimup grower said the cherry crop was light this year, therefore the berries were bigger.

“We are on track to pick about 15 tonnes from 1.5ha of cherry trees, ” he said.

“The crop’s looking very good, it’s not a heavy crop, but it’s a nice crop.”

Mr Giblett said the recent storm came out of the blue.

“One of our apple orchards was 40 per cent damaged which is quite substantial, ” he said.

“If we don’t get any more storms it will be fantastic.

“But the storm did give some rain to the other orchards, so it was a plus and a minus.

“We have just started to irrigate, so we think we will make it through. But if we get any more rain, we want it liquid not solid.

“Everything is progressing along nicely. If our dams were full it would be perfect.”

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