AUSTRALIA: Northern Territory watermelon harvest prolonged by early start to wet season

by Daniel Fitzgerald, abc news



An early start to the wet season saw more than 100 millimetres fall over a few days in the main melon-growing regions around Katherine and Mataranka.


Mataranka melon grower Kane Younghusband said the rain was likely to prolong harvest for another few weeks.


“Some rain at this time of the year is beneficial. It freshens up the crops,” Mr Younghusband said.


“They tend to get a new lease on life at this time of the year, if you get a bit of rain on them.


“We don’t want any more; we have probably had a bit more than we wanted, but there is not much we can do about that.”


Price subdued because of increased supply

Mr Younghusband said a warm, dry season saw the farm increase production this year.


“We have had a warmer than average season, [which] has meant our yields have been up above average,” he said.


“The price has been a bit more subdued this year than in previous years, I would say just due to more supply on the market.


“We have sold a lot of product. The quality has been good, which has helped us.”


Mr Younghusband said a wet and cold winter in southern states was responsible for reducing demand for melons.


Katherine growers re-join market after virus outbreak

In late 2014, about 25 melon farms were quarantined to stop the spread of an outbreak of Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus.


The quarantine zones were lifted in February, allowing farmers to again plant melons.


Mr Younghusband said the Katherine growers’ re-entry into the market had not had a huge impact on prices.


“That is not new melon, they were out for a year, we knew they were going to come back in,” he said.


Mr Younghusband said strict biosecurity measures introduced on his property after the virus outbreak had been kept up this season.


“We will continue to do that forever now. It is just good practice on any farm, really,” he said.


“The place is basically open to invite-only, and then we go through certain procedures to make sure they are clean.


“Visitors are basically a thing of the past.”


Source: abc news

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