Mango growers produce bumper crop in Central Queensland despite tough season | Ralph-Lauren

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A Central Queensland couple new to the mango industry has defied a national crash in the mango yield, increasing their production by 50 per cent.

Daniel and Alice Rye, who bought their orchard five years ago and have just finished their fourth season, packed off a quarter of a million more mangoes than last year.

The Ryes put this down to a combination of good luck in terms of the weather and beginning their picking a little earlier.

Mr Rye said confessed they had no horticultural knowledge prior to purchasing the orchard.

“It’s definitely been a long journey from a learning perspective,” he said.

Original Gold

The Ryes’ orchard is on the outskirts of Rockhampton and their main commercial crop is a premium mango variety called Honey Gold.

“The original Honey Gold tree is on this farm here,” Mr Rye said.

A man, with face hidden by leaves, reaches out to pick a large mango
One of the factors behind the farm’s successful yield was beginning picking a littler earlier.(Supplied: Alice Rye)

The original owners planted Kensington Pride and happened to notice one tree that was doing something different to the other 10,000 trees, he explained.

“They watched it over a couple of seasons, and it did the same thing,” Mr Rye said.

“So they worked out it could be a good thing, and this is where the Honey Gold story began.”

Pinata bought the rights to the mango variety and the Ryes are one of about 30 third-party growers supplying produce to the company.

Challenges and good fortune

Mr Rye said he was pleased with how the picking and packing came together to conclude a successful season.

“It’s been a long three-and-a-half weeks for us and all the staff who’ve worked with us, so we’re extremely happy with the way it’s panned out,” he said.

While other mango-growing areas have been challenged by the weather, Central Queensland has been in a sweet spot this season.

Mangoes in boxes at a supermarket
The Ryes were able to get some of their mangoes into the pre-Christmas markets.(Supplied: Alice Rye)

The region experienced near perfect mango-growing conditions with rain at the right time and warm days to accelerate fruit growth, he said.

This year, the Ryes also started picking the fruit earlier than they normally would.

Labour could have been an issue, but the Ryes were alerted to the potential shortages early last year and they were able to plan accordingly.

About 10 people standing and packing mangoes at different stations in a shed
The Ryes knew early last year there would be labour shortages due to COVID-19.(Supplied: Alice Rye)

By August, a combination of locals and backpackers were locked in for picking, with several backpacking couples returning for their third season.

“We were determined when we started that we weren’t going to have any issues on our farm, that we were always going to employ people fairly and treat people the way that we’d want to be treated if were the ones being employed,” Mr Rye said.

They do this through hourly wages and free, air-conditioned accommodation on the property.

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