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.
This is a terrible time to start importing foreign bananas due to the proposed layoffs of agricultural inspectors. The domestic crop could easily be devastated by invasive pests including banana rasp snail, red palm mite, two-spotted mite, banana root borer, banana aphid and the mealybug.
Manila may agree to Washington’s proposal to allow the entry of cold climate vegetables in exchange for the export of Philippine bananas in the US.
Agriculture officials said this may be the only way to secure the approval of the US Department of Agriculture for the Philippines’ formal request to penetrate the lucrative US market for fresh bananas.
“They are asking us if they can export temperate vegetables to the Philippines. We haven’t responded yet, but the arguments will always lead to a counter-trade arrangement," said Bureau of Plant Industry director Joel Rudinas.
The US government, Rudinas said, has expressed its interest to export temperate vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus.
He said the Philippines must submit its position on the findings of the import risk assessment (IRA) conducted by the US government on Philippine bananas as a protocol in the processing of requests for fruit exports.
In its IRA last month, the USDA said Philippine bananas may be allowed entry into the US market if mitigating measures be undertaken to address the issue of the danger of potential pests.
An IRA reviews existing quarantine policy on the import of animals, plants and their products, identifies and classifies potential quarantine risks and develop policies to manage them.
Creative entrepreneurial efforts deliver Maui Agricultural products directly into the hands of the neighborhood community and also tourists traveling to Hana. In addition to traditional items such as Maui Gold Pineapple, banana, and avocado the Hana Highway Fruit Market provides exotic fare such as loquat and lychee.