Cherry farmers cautiously optimistic for bloominggood year

Local cherry growers are “cautiously optimistic” that the coming season will see the industry turn its fortunes around.
Nanjing Night Net

With cherry trees now in full bloom, conditions are almost as good as they could be, according to local grower Tom Eastlake.

He’s hoping it will mean a bumper season is ahead, after last year’s disappointing yields.

“I would say we are cautiously optimistic,” he said.

“We’re in the best position we could be at the moment.”

All signs point to market optimism as well.

While major barriers are currently in place to export to China, Tom thinks a breakthrough could be just around the corner.

Cherries grown on the mainland currently have to go through rigorous cold treatment protocols before export.

“Some people have been saying an agreement could come by the end of the year – I would almost believe that’s possible now,” he said.

But he said the progression depended on “other political forces at play”.

With the bumper season expected, Tom said there will be no shortage of picking jobs.

“As always, we’re going to need all the backpackers and itinerant workers we can get.”

Grower Scott Coupland agreed the season was looking up from last year, but hoped progress could be made on access to certain Asian export markets.

“The main challenges are the things going on with export… I think you’ve got to be optimistic, I think there will be some progress,” he said.

Young’s major export markets are the “open” markets of Hong Kong the Middle East and Singapore.

Scott hopes negotiations will mean local growers are competitive in the major Asian “protocol” markets of Thailand, China and Taiwan.

“Hopefully we will soon have a very good air freight protocol (in those markets),” he said.

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