The West

Spring is on the way and fruit growers are hoping for a top-notch crop of peaches despite the dry winter.

Growers say they are looking forward to an excellent crop of peaches, plums and nectarines.

Summerfruit Australia chairman Mark Wilkinson said though this season was looking good, WA growers still needed rain to fill dams to sustain orchards over summer.

"It's still very early here in the Hills, but we've had nice fine weather and no frost, and the indications are we'll have plenty of fruit," he said.

Mr Wilkinson said picking was due to start north of Perth in October, followed by the Perth Hills then the South West.

The dry weather was good news for the consumer, as it helped keep fruit disease levels down and allowed flavour to develop.

"We'll have more sweet fruit, because the flavours are concentrated," he said.

Mr Wilkinson predicted harvest tonnages would be on par with last season.

Orchardist Ned Taddei said his crop was looking good on the family's 200ha property, near Gingin.

He said less rain meant more reliance on irrigation, which increased costs, but he was hopeful of a good price at the farmgate.

A Department of Agriculture and Food spokeswoman said many fruit and vegetable growers reliant on dams for irrigation would be hoping for good rain in coming months.

"The upside of the current season is that fruit quality should be high," she said.

The West Australian

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