Rain brings relief for Carnarvon growers

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Last week's soaking rains brought hope to Carnarvon growers in desperate need of a river during an all-time production low.

WA banana production reached a 20-year low last week as growers felt the full effects of Carnarvon's drought and heatwave.

Sweeter Banana Co-operative business manager Doriana Mangili said that last week and this week the co-operative was operating at its lowest volumes since the shed began. "All of the bananas we are picking now were on the trunk during the heatwave so they are not advancing or developing normally," she said.

"Because of the drought, growers have had to turn off water to some of their older patches."

Ms Mangili said projections for August and September were high and market conditions strong.

She said recent rains would buoy growers' hopes.

"Some growers are happy they can save their allocations for another week and bananas love rain - it fills them out and washes off the dust," Ms Mangili said.

Carnarvon banana grower Chris Collins was pleased when 20mm of rain fell on his plantation overnight last Thursday.

He said it was the first decent rain for at least four months.

"It is good for the bananas when it rains because it washes them and gets rid of dust mites," Mr Collins said.

"We are mainly concerned about getting rain in the catchment because that flows into the river.

"We had a savage summer. There is damage and loss and the bananas are coming on very slowly."

However, he said things were looking up for the long term.

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