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Insights September 2021

16 September 2021 |Horticulture
Workers in the field

Insights September 2021

16 September 2021 |Horticulture
The September update provides an analysis of production and pricing trends for Australian horticulture producers.

Commodity Overview

  • Australian mango harvest continued to progress in the Northern Territory with 309,000 trays harvested so far.
  • Australian broccoli producers are anticipating strong production across key growing regions thanks to favourable growing conditions and large plantings.
  • A smaller Californian almond crop will hold Australian producers in good stead, with global prices expected to rise as a result.

Primary producers are hopeful that relief from seasonal labour shortages are on the horizon. This will come in the form of the Australian Agriculture Visa. The Australian government has confirmed regulations to enable the Ag Visa will arrive by the end of September. The visa will build off the strengths of the Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme. Industry consultation begun in August to better understand needs across the sector. The Federal Government has also announced an extension of the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to mid-2022. This will come as a relief to producers with total funding for the program now at $1.04bn since it was launched in April 2020.

Australian Mango harvest has continued to progress in the Northern Territory. There have been 309,000 trays harvested through to the start of September. Darwin is currently forecast to deliver 2.9 million trays. Kununurra are forecast to produce 48,000 trays while Katherine is forecast to produce 2 million trays. Harvest within the NT is expected to peak in Mid-October, though it has been generally patchy so far. Some growers are reporting a strong crop while others are anticipating a drop in volumes compared to prior seasons. Production forecasts for Katherine and Kununurra are due to be released next week.

Strawberry producers are currently in the middle of peak harvest. Strong production has been reported in Queensland where over 40 per cent of all Australian strawberries are grown. Unfortunately, sales have more than halved thanks to lockdowns throughout NSW and Victoria. There are reports of farmers spraying strawberry fields to prevent further development of crops. This is due to producers being unable to afford to pick, pack and transport the produce due to current market conditions.  

Stone-fruit production forecasts for 2021/22 have also been released. Cherry production is projected to increase by 11 percent, and peaches and nectarines to increase by five percent on the year prior. These production increases alongside with an easing of labour shortages, and reduced logistical challenges are expected to result in an increase in exports.

As the potato harvest slows down at the start of spring, it is worth reflecting on Australia’s opportunities in potatoes. Being a staple crop, potatoes enjoy minimal upsets from events such as COVID-19. A favourable potato season has coincided with good demand from both the domestic and global market. Heat and drought stress have also negatively impacted the US potato crop, which should hold Australian producers in good stead. There have been minor issues in the eastern states over plant variety rights, but this has not affected production. 

In the midst of broccoli season, prosects are looking good across Australia’s key growing areas. Victorian producers are taking advantage of good conditions with large plantings. Queensland will be expecting an above average season off the back of improved climatic conditions. Western Australia will also be looking to have a good year after a very wet winter. Both domestic and export markets are looking favourable for producers.

Californian almond producers are currently in the middle of harvest. The crop is anticipated to be an estimated 10 per cent lighter in comparison to last year. Given California is the world's largest almond producer, almond prices should increase in comparison to last year. Australian growers will benefit as a result with a strong crop on the horizon.


* The edible flower index includes artichokes, broccoli and cauliflower
** The tropical fruit index includes bananas, mangoes, papaws, passionfruit and pineapples

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Rural Bank and Ausmarket Consultants.

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