Summer storms in eastern and southern parts of Australia are causing headaches for cherry growers, with some anticipating the cost of the Christmas favourite to go up.
More than half the cherries in orchards in the Adelaide Hills have been damaged by wild winds, thunder and heavy rain that hit central and southern parts of South Australia over the last week.
Some parts of the Mt Lofty ranges received up to 101 millimetres of rain across seven days. The Bureau of Metrology said the total average rainfall for December is usually 25 to 50 millimetres for that region.
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Grower Tom Lucas, who runs Cherries at Verdun, estimated between 50 and 60 per cent of his crop had been impacted in some way by the recent storms.
He said hundreds of cherries have split because of the rain, which can lead to rotting, or fruit being sold at a lower price.
“We’ve had about four inches of rain in the last three weeks … it was shaping up to be a reasonable season,” Lucas said.
“(But now) we could be looking at $60,000 to $70,000 in lost revenue.
Cherries in South Australia have split because of heavy rainfall. Credit: 7NEWSTom Lucas said up to 60 per cent of his cherry crop has been affected by SA storms. Credit: 7NEWS
“I do know some orchards that are weighing up whether they will pick anything, just because the cost of bringing in labour to pick them is going to outweigh the return for the fruit.”
Cherry Growers Australia board member Tony Hannaford said farmers in NSW and Tasmania have also been impacted by severe weather over the two weeks that are usually critical for their crop.
“To have five or six days when the trees are constantly wet is very unseasonal,” Hannaford, a grower in Gumeracha in South Australia, said.
“This is probably the worst season for about 20-years, I’d say.”
Hannaford said the current average price of cherries is about $15 to $20 per kg.
But one fruit and vegetable stall at Adelaide’s Central Market was seen charging up to $50 per kg of cherries.
Some growers believe the price of cherries will increase because of short supply.
Hannaford said there has been a lack of demand for fruit generally this year, which could offset any issues with supply.
“I don’t think (the price) is going to go down leading up to Christmas. It might drop after Christmas,” he said.
-With Mitchell Sariovski