Winter strawberries hit Qld shelves

Winter strawberries hit Qld shelves despite tough season

Horticulture
OPEN: Maddy Schulz, LuvaBerry, Wamuran, Qld celebrates the winter strawberry season on the family farm.

OPEN: Maddy Schulz, LuvaBerry, Wamuran, Qld celebrates the winter strawberry season on the family farm.

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Drought has hampered Qld strawberry production but there are still plenty.

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QUEENSLAND-grown strawberries are flowing onto shelves despite major challenges from drought and labour access

Queensland Strawberries reported recent "excellent growing conditions" for the state which is Australia's largest supply region and home of winter production for strawberries

It expected a 30 per cent increase in berries coming into the market from last week.

Qld Strawberries president, Adrian Schultz, LuvaBerry, said warm, dry sunny days and cool nights created perfect growing conditions

"The price for fresh produce is largely driven by supply and demand, and we know just how much people love their winter strawberries so as they become even more affordable, we know they will get snapped up," Mr Schultz said.

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Qld growers have traditionally faced a glut in recent years as the output from various growing regions overlaps.

Qld Strawberries has taken an active approach with hopes of avoiding that with Mr Schultz encouraging shoppers to purchase plenty of strawberries "even when they are not on a hot special", to make sure sales match production.

"Strawberries grow in line with natures' rhythms and we can't just switch the plants off and on," he said.

"When they are ripe and perfectly ready, we have to pick them and send them off to shops."

READY: Qld Strawberries president, Adrian Schultz, is encouraging shoppers to buy strawberries even if they aren't on sale during winter.

READY: Qld Strawberries president, Adrian Schultz, is encouraging shoppers to buy strawberries even if they aren't on sale during winter.

But the anticipated oversupply may not be as big as expected with one of the state's major producers, Pinata Farms, suffering the effects of dry weather on its strawberry runners.

Drought impacts runners

TWO years of drought in the Granite Belt region, where most of the industry's runners are grown, resulted in fewer plants and poor quality plants.

Pinata Farms' managing director, Gavin Scurr, said it has been a challenging season.

"Runners also arrived late which delayed planting by about three weeks," Mr Scurr said.

"Yield is down and we're facing a potential industry-wide worker shortage due to COVID-19 travel restrictions during the August peak," Mr Scurr said.

"However, that's farming and producers are well accustomed to delivering a crop despite adverse conditions."

Hurdles aside, the company reported good quality, particularly from the winter crop now underway at Wamuran on the Sunshine Coast.

TOUGH: Pinata Farms' managing director, Gavin Scurr, says the recent growing season has been challenging, particularly with drought impacting on the growth of strawberry runners.

TOUGH: Pinata Farms' managing director, Gavin Scurr, says the recent growing season has been challenging, particularly with drought impacting on the growth of strawberry runners.

"We don't have as many strawberries as usual but what we have is excellent," he said.

Piata Farms also produces summer strawberries at Stanthorpe but with the region entering its third year of drought, a summer crop was off the agenda.

"We intend to grow strawberries at Stanthorpe again when we have a reliable water supply," Mr Scurr said.

Following a successful inaugural raspberry harvest at its Orielton, Tasmania farm, Mr Scurr said Piata Farms would also trial grow summer strawberries there.

"We have the irrigation and packing shed infrastructure built for the future at Orielton," he said.

The Qld strawberry industry will be given a boost in August when "pop up" Ekka Strawberry Sundae booths appear around Brisbane.

AVAILABLE: The Ekka's famous strawberry sundae will be available in August even though the Royal Queensland Show has been cancelled.

AVAILABLE: The Ekka's famous strawberry sundae will be available in August even though the Royal Queensland Show has been cancelled.

The sundaes are usually a major part of the Royal Queensland Show however the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

The sundaes will be available at drive-through outlets at the Brisbane Showgrounds, pop up sites around Brisbane and the first ever Do It Yourself Ekka Strawberry Sundae packs.

RNA chief executive, Brendan Christou, said the organisation wanted to ensure people could still get a taste of the show not just through online engagement but also ensuring the iconic strawberry sundaes were available.

All proceeds from the sundae go towards supporting the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation, For the Common Good.

Ekka 2020 Online will run from August 7-16.

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