Qld mango farmers strike gold

Friday, 21 June, 2024

Qld mango farmers strike gold

A Central Queensland couple who changed careers from mining and media to become mango growers have been named Honey Gold Grower of the Year by Piñata Farms

Dan and Alice Rye of Evaldar Pty Ltd, Alton Downs, north-west of Rockhampton, had no experience in horticulture when they bought the 30-hectare property from Piñata Farms in 2016 and joined a network of some 30 third-party growers producing the Honey Gold mango variety.

Piñata Farms Managing Director Gavin Scurr said Evaldar received the award for excellent communication before and during the season, as well as accurate forecasting, which was critical to managing supply to the market. 

“Many variables can affect forecasting — from late flowering to weather events — and it can change throughout the season, right up to harvest. Our growers in five states do a great job in managing these variables such as the extreme flooding impacts felt by our North Queensland growers last season,” Scurr said.

Piñata Farms Managing Director Gavin Scurr.

The Ryes have 9000 Honey Gold trees and last season produced 33,000 trays — about 22% down on the previous season. Their property includes the original tree which produced the first Honey Gold — a natural cross between a Kensington Pride and a Kensington Pride off-type.

Since acquiring the property, the Ryes have experienced floods and drought but nothing like the serious flooding some of their colleagues around the Mareeba region faced last season. The Far North Queensland region had more than its average annual rainfall of 900 mm between mid-December and mid-January, right at harvest time.

“Fortunately, last season was a lot drier through winter and spring and that contributed to getting a consistent flowering and fruit set,” Mr Rye said.

Mr Rye attributed the farm’s forecasting accuracy to having a more consistent flowering than other regions and the practice of taking a high number of samples in the lead-up to the Christmas–New Year harvest. He said it had been a huge learning curve to become growers but there were no regrets. 

The award was announced at Piñata Farms’ annual Honey Gold Congress. This year, more than 45 growers and families convened in Cairns to share outcome of the past season and prepare for next season.

Top image caption: Dan and Alice Rye of Evaldar with their children.

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