Rich pickings for local cherries

Claire TyrrellThe West Australian
Mount Barker cherry grower Ron Duggins.
Camera IconMount Barker cherry grower Ron Duggins. Credit: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

Consumers are paying a premium for cherries this festive season because South Australian shortages have led to a boom for WA growers.

WA Cherry Grower Association president Gary Fergusson said compared with last year prices would more than double, while volume would be about 15 per cent.

"South Australia usually supplies about 80 per cent of the cherries sold in WA, but this year they don't have much of a crop," he said.

"It is a good time for WA growers - it gives them a chance to shine."

Mt Barker cherry growers Ron and Anne Duggins have welcomed the increased demand for their fruit.

"We are quite happy with our cherries this year and demand has been quite good," Mr Duggins said.

South Australian cherry growers had one of their worst seasons on record after a mild winter and cold patches during spring hampered production.

Although the WA crop did not live up to its potential this season, growers are receiving more than double the return they did last year.

Mr Fergusson said cherries could cost up to $25 a kg wholesale, or $30/kg retail, compared with last year's maximum of $12 wholesale and $20 retail.

"During a week over the Christmas period, last year about 1000 tonnes of cherries were consumed in WA," he said.

"This year the likelihood will be about 150 or 200 tonnes."

He said there would still be plenty of the festive fruit to go around.

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