Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Good weather for tomoto growing, says farmer

Good weather has contributed to a good tomoto crop this year says a Strathallan tomato farmer.

RUTH CLAYTON February 22, 2013 4:22am

Rich River Tomatoes tomato farm manager Jason Sondergard inspects this year's harvest.

Strathallan tomato farmer Paul Monigatti is expecting a better quality fruit this year, though admits the number of tomatoes currently being harvested is ‘‘not breaking any records’’.

Mr Monigatti, owner of Rich River Tomatoes, said good weather — characterised by a lack of rain during January — was producing a better quality tomato than last year’s crop.

Rain during harvest can cause scarring of the fruit and disease in the plant.

The business is one third of the way through harvesting its tomatoes, and is employing about 50 pickers30 for gourmet and roma tomatoes and 20 for cherry tomatoes.

Mr Monigatti described the harvest as steady and said getting a good price for his tomatoes was all about ‘‘picking the market’’.

The business has to-date harvested 30 per cent fewer tomatoes than last year, due to planting fewer tomatoes in the initial planting stage.

There are traditionally four intermittent plantings of tomatoes, which are harvested in stages.

Planting began in early October and continued through to mid-January.

Mr Monigatti said choosing to plant 10 per cent of his tomatoes in the first planting would hopefully mean the remainder of his tomatoes would fetch a higher price when it came time to sell them.

‘‘The fresh market is all supply and demand,’’ Mr Monigatti said.

‘‘We’re hoping we’ll pick up when the price is up.’’

The peak harvest time is normally in mid-March, and harvest is expected to continue until between the end of April and mid-May.

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