Mango growers in Western Australia’s north are experiencing one of their hardest seasons on record, with fruit production down by 50 per cent.
In the Kimberley, growers have seen a lacklustre season due, in part, to a split flowering this year.
Further south in Carnarvon, mango trees were hit hard by Cyclone Olwyn’s damaging winds in March and have struggled to bear fruit.
The Australian Mango Industry Association’s Geoffrey Warnock said the significant drop in production has meant higher mango prices for consumers this summer.
“A tray of the first-grade, best quality fruit would probably be fetching about $50 to $60 in the [Perth] market,” Mr Warnock said.
“Normally at this time of year, they’d probably be about $24 or $25, so there’s quite a considerable increase in the price.
“It’s been a difficult season, yields are down 50 per cent on past years.”
While the Kimberley mango season is wrapping up, Carnarvon growers are just a few weeks away from harvest.
Eddie Smith grows a variety of mangoes at his plantation, including R2E2s, Valencia Pride, Calypso and Heidi, a South African fruit.
He said he has never seen such high prices for the fruit at the market.
“Prices are really up at the moment and they’re prices I have never heard of before,” Mr Smith said.
“I’d love to be able to send some fruit, but it’s not ready.”
Cyclone Olwyn destroyed five of Mr Smith’s mature mango trees and another 250 toppled over.
“Due to the cyclone we had no carbohydrate build up in the trees, so we’re very very light on with crop,” he said.
“The fruit is not spectacular, it’s very small.”
Normally Mr Smith would send 16,000 trays of mangoes to the Perth market, but he will only do a quarter of that this season.
“This year we will be battling to do 4,000 trays,” he said.
“It’s going to knock the purse around a bit, and the old bank manager is going to be talking me!
“But it’s one of those things, it’s the gamble we take.
“We’ll cop it on the chin, pick up the pieces and carry on.”
The one small silver lining to this mango season is the fresh young foliage Mr Smith’s trees have produced as they recover.
He said considerable new growth across the plantation is a good omen for next season.
“I think next year’s crop will be a blinder,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s one of those strange years, I know the Northern Territory had a weird flowering and Kununurra was the same.
“I think everybody will go back into line next year and we’ll be swimming in mangoes.”