Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Early apricot shut down has growers stewing

An early cut to the apricot intake by SPC Ardmona has upset the region's growers.

GEOFF ADAMS January 15, 2013 4:11am

A bumper season has left too many unwanted apricots.

SPC Ardmona’s revoking of a promise to accept all of this season’s apricots has upset fruit growers who say their harvest has been cut off mid-stream.

About a month ago SPC Ardmona offered to take all apricots that growers could supply, but on Tuesday last week the company phoned growers saying intake would cease that night.

SPC Ardmona managing director Vince Pinneri said the apricot cut-off was brought about by a bigger-than-expected season, and had increased its purchases to more than 35 per cent above its original forecast.

‘‘However, demand from Australian consumers has not matched the abundant supply, so the company has made the necessary decision to immediately revise its intake for the season and close the apricot intake.

‘‘The company advised growers of the changes to the intake early yesterday (last Tuesday) and has been updating them regularly.

‘‘While early indications were that we would take all available apricots, the crop has far exceeded our expectations in terms of yield and quality.’’

He said based on grower estimates and the company’s own indications, the forecast was to take 3500 tonnes of apricots with that figure being increased twice during a four-day period.

This season the supply is expected to exceed 5100 tonnes. 

Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson said growers were annoyed when told about the halt to intake at such short notice.rge

‘‘Many will be left with fruit on the trees and few options to dispose of it,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘If they’re left on the trees it will impact on next season’s crop, and if they are left to rot in the orchards there will be pest and disease implications.’’

He agreed it was a big season for apricots.

SPC Ardmona said it had used feedback from growers to estimate the crop size.

Mr Wilson said Fruit Growers Victoria’s advice was for each grower to take up the issue directly with the cannery. He said some had discussed legal action.

Mr Wilson said a further aggravating factor was that SPC Ardmona had sent out a text message on Monday, a day before the intake closure, telling growers they had until Friday to send their fruit.

‘‘The information system within SPC Ardmona needs to be reviewed,’’ he said.

‘‘They told us they would take the crop, and they got it wrong.’’

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