Prices soar as mango shortfall hits

Claire TyrrellThe West Australian

A critical mango shortage in WA's north has growers scratching their heads and consumers digging into their pockets.

Kununurra growers are picking up to 90 per cent less than average but cannot fully explain why production is so low.

"I have been picking for two weeks and have done less than 1000 trays - I normally do 3000 to 5000 a day," Kununurra grower and packing shed owner Quentin Parker said.

"I have never seen so many dead trees, but I have no idea why."

Mr Parker said it was the worst mango season he had seen during his 27 years in the industry.

Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries chief executive Martin Clark said mango prices were likely to remain high this season.

"Mangoes are selling for between $50 and $60 a tray wholesale," Mr Clark said.

"At the height of the season they can get down to $15 to $20 but they will not get that cheap this year."

Department of Agriculture and Food horticulture development officer Peter Johnson said adverse weather caused the poor crop. "Though we had average rainfall we did not have a lot of cloud cover, which mangoes need to accumulate carbohydrates," he said.

Mr Johnson said WA mango varieties were prone to yield fluctuations from year to year, with some crops peaking once every four years.

Mr Clark said mango production usually peaked from late November to Christmas, when Carnarvon's mangoes came on line.

"Prices will probably ease back a bit, but it depends on the Carnarvon crop," he said.

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