While Sydneysiders have been grumbling about the cold start to summer and constantly overcast days, farmers on the central and mid-north coast are also being affected by the gloomy skies, which they say has stunted summer fruit production.
“It’s hard to grow things without sunshine,” said chairman of the Central Coast Horticulture branch of the NSW Farmers Association, Timothy Kemp.
“The amount of consistent cloudy days we have had, especially during flowering, has had a huge impact – it is no good for summer fruit, particularly stone fruit and avocado.”
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He estimates “at least” a 50 per cent downturn in produce from the region.
“The production of nectarines and peaches has slowed right down, and the stone fruit season is staring to wind up so it’s too late for the sun to come out now.”
Robyn and Henry Willner have grown and sold avocados at Bobs Farm at Port Stephen’s for about 10 years, but said they could not remember a season this overcast and wet.
“We’re bracing ourselves for a decline in fruit production next season,” Mrs Willner said.
“Because there is no sun, the bees haven’t been coming out to pollinate the blossoms on our trees.
“Next year, we’ll see the impact of what the cold and wet weather has really done to us.”
Adding to the farmers’ woes is that people have been slow to buy the fruit that is available, Mr Kemp said.
“People aren’t eating it, no one wants to eat fruit when it is cool,” he said.
“There has been a decline in patronage at growers markets.
“Farmers are trying to encourage people to use summer produce in their cooking more widely, but predominantly people still use it in salads and sandwiches.”
Fruit sales would be slower right through to Christmas, with the 10-day forecast predicting more overcast weather, said co-owner of Galluzzo’s fruit market in Glebe, Joe Galluzzo.
“I’ve had people coming through the doors asking me for soup-mix,” he said.
“When the weather is warm people are out, they’re active, they want to eat something sweet and juicy.
“But when it’s cold like this, you just want to get indoors and eat soup.”