Cherry growers overcome hurdles to make most of 2020 season

Young's cherry trees are the healthiest they've been in recent years meaning the 2021 harvest could be massive. Photo: Hilltops Council
Young's cherry trees are the healthiest they've been in recent years meaning the 2021 harvest could be massive. Photo: Hilltops Council

It was a bit of mixed harvest for cherry growers in the Young district with rain and wind causing some damage to different varieties.

However, thanks to winter rain, Young's cherry trees are the healthiest they've been in recent years meaning the 2021 harvest could be massive.

Young grower Scott Coupland said the local industry was pleased to overcome a number of challenges including the threat of COVID and a worker shortage.

"Most people managed to pick the bulk of their crop. It wasn't a super huge crop. It was bigger in some areas and lighter in others," he said.

"We didn't get any COVID cases in the area. And I don't think there was any real issue with picking. A few growers might have been a little bit short on workers."

Some heavy rain and strong wind caused some headaches for growers.

"Some varieties in some areas were hit by rain and wind at the wrong time of the year. When it didn't hurt some growers, it did hurt others. But we had a good run across the region, on average it came out okay," Mr Coupland said.

Cherry trees across the district are the healthiest they've been in years thanks to rainfall totals in 2020, and Mr Coupland expects a big crop of cherries in 2021.

He said planning for this year's harvest needs to begin now.

"The main issue now is moving forward. We could have a really big crop this year which means we'll need a lot more workers. So we need a good strategy with workforce. Also, what's going to happen with COVID? What's the new normal? And export. Air freight and sea freight and costs involved with export. They're some of the issues we have to work on as an industry over the next 12 months."

Cherry picking across the district wrapped up before Christmas.

Mr Coupland said work might be available in the area picking summer stone fruit including sugar plums.

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