The West

Cherry harvest under threat
Cherry harvest under threat

Cherry growers are worried they may not be able to provide their usual quota of fruit for this weekend’s Cherry Harmony Festival.

Heavy winds and more than 50mm of rain during a thunderstorm last Wednesday damaged cherry plantations across the region — and there is a chance of more storms leading up to the festival.

A & D Guadagnino and Co. Orchards owner Tony Potito said if there was more violent weather leading up to the festival they would not be selling the expected number of cherries.

“We usually bring two or three tonnes to the festival,” he said.

“If this continues, if we get more rain, it could be half that.”

Mr Potito said many of the cherries he had planned on harvesting this week had been split open by the weather and were worthless.

“Anything that was ripe on the trees has been split 100 per cent, and some of the green ones, the unripe ones, were also badly split.”

Newton Orchards owner Harvey Giblett said his crop had been damaged in much the same way.

“A lot of cracking and splitting fruit — some fruit has just been blown off the trees,” he said.

Mr Giblett said if fruit was just cracked around the stem it could be sold, but a lot of it was split open, leaving it exposed and susceptible to mouldy flesh.

“It is a pretty nerve-wracking time at the moment — I am a bit worried,” he said.

Festival organiser Rosa Moyle said while she was concerned about low cherry numbers, she still expected the festival to be a great success.

“There will still be plenty for people to see and do — we’ve had low numbers of cherries before and the festival has gone ahead.”

Mr Giblett said Newton would generally harvest from this week until early January, but if more wild weather hit it could severely affect the entire season’s harvest.

“If we have more damage as we go closer to Christmas we’re going to have some issues,” he said.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s John Relf said the rain was expected to clear by Friday.

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