Australia: Fewer strawberries planted in Perth following needle crisis

January 30 , 2019

Far fewer strawberries are to be planted in Perth in Western Australia this year, after growers took an estimated AUD$12 million hit on income last season because of the needle sabotage crisis, The West reported.

WA Strawberry Growers Association spokesman Jamie Michael said the exact reduction in plantings won’t be known for a few more weeks when growers in the area start to lay plastic on the ground, ahead of plantings to start in late March.

“However a lot of growers, including ourselves, will be reducing how much we plant,” he was quoted as saying.

“Strawberries are an expensive crop to put into the ground — about AUD$50,000 per hectare including plants, labor, plastic mulch and tents over the top.

“After the losses last year many growers simply won’t have the funds to plant their normal-sized crops, so plantings will be substantially down.”

Michael, of Ti Produce at Bullsbrook, said strawberry farms on the outskirts of Perth averaged four to eight hectares and there were about 50 growers operating in the area.

Land which is not planted to strawberries is not used for alternative crops, rather a cover crop will be put on to protect the soil from wind, according to the article.

Michael said confidence from consumers had started to recover after farmworker My Ut Trinh was charged in Queensland over contaminating goods with the intent to cause economic loss.

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