Picking has started for the Goulburn Valley's field tomato harvest.By Laura Griffin
Northern Victoria’s tomato growers have started picking and they want warm and dry conditions to continue.
Australian Processing Tomato Research Council’s industry development manager Liz Mann said it was too early to call the size of the region’s harvest.
‘‘It is looking better than last year because of the hot and dry conditions,’’ Ms Mann said.
‘‘With no rain forecast for the near future, prospects for a good harvest are looking pretty good.’’
The harvest will continue until the end of March or early April.
Ms Mann said there had been a lot of thrip pressure this season and farmers and industry groups were monitoring thrip levels and treating the pest as needed.
Rochester tomato grower Bruce Weeks is also optimistic about an ‘‘average to better than average’’ crop.
Mr Weeks plans to start harvesting the 130
He agreed thrip had been a bigger problem this year than previously.
‘‘Western flower thrips are becoming a big problem because they are developing resistance to insecticides. They’ve been a lot worse this year than in the last decade, and will probably be an ongoing problem,’’ Mr Weeks said.
He said prices looked fairly poor.
‘‘The high Australian dollar means people can import tomatoes cheaply.’’
Picking continues in hydroponic as well as field operations.
Moraitis Tomatoes production manager Greg Prendergast said staff picked tomatoes in the Tatura glasshouses throughout the year.
The company grows 3000 tonnes of tomatoes each year for the fresh market.
Mr Prendergast said there were high costs involved in growing the fruit in such a controlled environment.
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