It's cherry ripe for WA growers

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

WA cherry growers are reaping the benefits of a bumper season and high prices.

Manjimup grower George Grozotis said the season, up until now, had been great.

“It’s been a great season, fingers crossed it stays like this, ” he said.

“We have an average-size crop and the fruit are a beautiful size. Our cherries average between 20mm and 30mm, which is excellent.”

Mr Grozotis said summer rain would be the biggest enemy now, since too much would ruin the cherries. “We should pick about 70 to 80 tonnes this year, ” he said.

The third-generation grower said cherries were extremely expensive.

Growers have been averaging $25/kg for our big cherries and $18/kg for the smaller ones.

“I think it’s too much money, but you’ve got to reap the benefits when it’s there, because one year we could get wiped out by rain and have nothing, ” Mr Grozotis said.

“I don’t think prices will increase much more, because people just won’t buy them; our door price won’t go above $12/kg.”

Mr Grozotis said he didn’t think WA would have the capacity to send cherries east, where rains have wiped out crops.

“What we produce in WA isn’t enough for the local market, ” he said.

“South Australian cherries will hit those markets before us.”

Manjimup grower Max Arif said WA consumers bought 500 tonnes of cherries each year, and the State only produced up to 400 tonnes.

“WA will produce more than 500 tonnes per year in the next few years as more trees come into full production, ” he said.

“Our local growers are able to get really good prices for good quality cherries.”

Manjimup grower Harvey Giblett said the cherry crop this year was lighter, therefore the cherries were bigger.

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

“We are on track to pick about 15 tonnes for the local market.”

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