Grower believes local is best for citrus

Headshot of Nicolette Barbas
Nicolette BarbasHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Yambellup Estate citrus grower Richard Eckersley stands next to this seasons crop.
Camera IconYambellup Estate citrus grower Richard Eckersley stands next to this seasons crop. Credit: Nicolette Barbas

Yambellup Estate citrus producer Richard Eckersley will pluck this season’s latest seedless mandarin, the Tango, for the first time this harvest.

Eager to get the season off and running, Mr Eckersley said the Harvey-based estate had been tinkering with new ways to harvest specific varieties of mandarin.

“We have just planted the newest mandarin to hit the market which is a seedless Afourer, or more commonly known as the Tango,” Mr Eckersley said.

“As well as this we are also trialling the Afourer with bee protection nets, because citrus can self-pollinate, so if we can keep the bees out we will end up with a seedless Afourer.”

Now harvesting five varieties of mandarins, two varieties of oranges and two varieties of lemons, Mr Eckersley is particularly optimistic about this season’s citrus exports.

“Australia has just had its biggest export year recording around $1 billion worth of horticultural exports over the last 12 months, with citrus making up 40 per cent of that,” he said.

“Our product range fits into the Northern Valley Packers targeted export program so exports for us are looking quite promising.”

With unfavourable weather conditions over the past few weeks, the Harvey grower said sizing the fruit up this season had been a challenge.

“The dry autumn season has impacted the size of our mandarins in particular, and it looks as though there are cold temperatures coming in which can affect some of the early mandarin skins, shortening their shelf life.”

When asked how to choose the perfect mandarin, the citrus expert said to look out for local produce.

“The best mandarins are local, in season, easy peel, bursting with colour and are generally low seed or seedless.”

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