Extreme heat in South Australia is leading to heavy losses for stone fruit growers, with their produce burning from the inside out.

Dried Tree Fruits Australia chairman Kris Werner, who grows stone fruit at his property in Waikerie, between Adelaide and Mildura, said many growers were losing their fruit to ‘stone burn’ due to the heat.

“The stone burns them, which means they burn on the inside, they become squashy and you can’t use them,” Mr Werner said.

The extreme heat has cost Renmark stone fruit grower and packer Dino Cerrachi up to 30 per cent of some stone fruit varieties this season.

“It’s extremely hot and we are expecting 46, possibly 47 degrees [Celsius],” he said.

“Basically, it just sort of cooks that side or that part of the fruit that has the direct sunlight for a length of time and it gives you an impression that it is soft, but it has actually gone jammy from being cooked.”

Race against time to get fruit off trees before extreme heat

Mr Cerrachi said he is racing against the clock, trying to get as much fruit off the trees as possible, before the extreme heat hits throughout the day.

“We are harvesting peaches and nectarines, both white and yellow, and we only have from daybreak until about 10.30-11 o’clock to pick all of that fruit and five varieties,” he said.

Mr Cerrachi said he had tried to increase his workforce to get as much fruit off the trees as possible, but struggled to find experienced workers.

“We need experienced people and often when you look for more they haven’t got the experience, but we need to get more people and try to get it off [the fruit] as quickly as possible,” he said.

“However, the fruit that we actually put into the boxes is still of very high quality and that is one thing that we are extremely happy about, that the fruit that does make it through is of very good eating quality.

Original article by ABC Rural

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