SWEET PICKING: Fruitful harvest of Imperial crop
IMPERIAL by name and impressive by nature - the Nutrano Produce Group's Abbotsleigh Citrus Farm has started their imperial mandarin harvest and couldn't be happier with the results.
Nutrano's General Manager of Sales and Marketing Simon Raj said they were thrilled with their crop of Imperials this year - "with high sugars and fantastic eating quality".
"It has been a balancing act of pruning to deliver the ideal crop load, and the right fertigation and nutrition programs to achieve consistency in high quality fruit and good fruit size," Mr Raj said.
"We think we've got it right this year with our fruit exceeding Australian Citrus Standards achieving brix level average 10.7-12.1 vs spec 10 and juice level averaging 40 per cent.
"Fruit size profile over the 60mm ringmark and averaging 65mm."
He said they were proud of the farm team and acknowledged the collaboration with DPI in Queensland on R & D and trials to address some of the quality issues that the Central Burnett region is prone to like granulation and frost damage.
While the crop is growing strong, Naturano is enforcing strict hygiene and social distancing protocols into their operation.
Nutrano Produce Group CEO George Haggar said it was business as usual with sites continuing to harvest, pack and supply.
"The dedication and commitment from our entire team has been exceptional," he said.
"There is a strong sense of teamwork and co-operation that has been entrenched in our culture since the COVID-19 pandemic escalated which has translated into a shared commitment to growing, packing and selling fruit that our customers - and their customers - can trust."
While the imperials are proving to be a sweet success this year, the lemon harvest continues to exceed their quality expectations.
To meet the growing consumer demand, an additional 16.94ha of lemons has recently been planted with another 32ha planned in the coming months.
And there's plenty still being done around the facility.
Last year saw the installation of a new Compac Spectrim grading machine to increase throughput, identify blemishes and improve consistency and accuracy in grading fruit.
Trial is also underway of a new Phytech technology to refine irrigation of fruit trees by monitoring plant health and use water more effectively and efficiently to achieve desirable fruit size and sugar levels.