THE mandarin harvest is underway for a major fruit company, be it under strict COVID-19 compliance protocols.
Nutrano's general manager of sales and marketing, Simon Raj, said it has been a balancing act of pruning to deliver the ideal crop load, and the right fertigation and nutrition programs to achieve consistency in high quality fruit and fruit size.
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"We think we've got it right this year with our fruit exceeding Australian Citrus Standards achieving brix level average 10.7-12.1 vs spec 10 and juice level averaging 40 per cent," Mr Raj said.
"Fruit size profile over the 60mm ringmark and averaging 65mm.
"We are very proud of our farm team who adopt best practice agronomy and always review and refine our programs to deliver optimum fruit that our customers can trust.
He acknowledged the collaboration with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on research and development trials to address some of the quality issues the Central Burnett region was prone to like granulation and frost damage.
This year's harvest practices have been altered somewhat due to COVID-19 pandemic protocols.
Nutrano has enforced strict hygiene and social distancing.
But Nutrano Produce Group chief executive officer, George Haggar, said it was business as usual across all 13 Nutrano sites across Australia
"The dedication and commitment from our entire team has been exceptional There is a strong sense of teamwork and co-operation that has been entrenched in our culture since the COVID-19 pandemic escalated which has translated into a shared commitment to growing, packing and selling fruit that our customers - and their customers - can trust," Mr Haggar said.
The group's lemon harvest continues as well with similar reports of good quality fruit.
The Abbotsleigh Lemon brand is highly regarded both within Australia and globally, based on the fruit's smooth skin, thin rind, juice content and few seeds.
To meet the growing consumer demand, an additional 16.94 hectares of lemons were recently planted with another 32ha planned in the coming months.
Last year saw the installation of a new Compac Spectrim grading machine to increase throughput, identify blemishes and improve consistency and accuracy in grading fruit.
A trial is also underway of a new Phytech technology to refine irrigation of fruit trees by monitoring plant health and use water more effectively and efficiently to achieve desirable fruit size and sugar levels.
The Nutrano Produce Group's farming footprint spans more than 2000ha, in addition to operating its own packing sheds, ripening and logistics facilities across Australia.
It employs more than 850 employees and contractors during peak harvest, focussing on four core fresh produce categories - citrus, bananas, tropical fruits and blueberries.