Central Queensland producer wins Honey Gold Grower of the Year
A Central Queensland mango growing business, which has collaborated with researchers to trial the world's first autonomous mango harvester and other advancements in mango production, has been named Piñata Farms' Honey Gold Grower of the Year.
Piñata Farms named Yeppoon's Groves Grown Tropical Fruit its Honey Gold Grower of the Year at the 14th annual Honey Gold Congress in Katherine, Northern Territory earlier this month.
Groves Grown Tropical Fruit is one of 30 third-party growers around Australia producing Honey Golds under licence for Piñata Farms which owns the varietal rights.
Grower Ian Groves, who operates the family business alongside wife Sandi and son David, said the family was ecstatic to receive the award.
"Honey Gold growers are exceptional mango growers. We had to be selected to grow the variety, and we work closely to adhere to Piñata's very high standards. To be selected as the best among Honey Gold growers, is a real feather in the cap," he said.
"We were very lucky with the weather last season which contributed to the quality of fruit and meant 98.5 per cent of our fruit could be sent straight to the chain stores as premium grade.
"As we have other crops we can step in and out of, we were also able to delay harvesting for 10 days to give Piñata more production flexibility. Not a lot of growers can do that, due to the nature of their crops.
"The job that Piñata does with marketing Honey Golds, providing agronomic and grower support, training and maintaining high grower returns is superb. It gives growers confidence in the Honey Gold model."
Groves Grown Tropical Fruit has collaborated with Central Queensland University's Professor Kerry Walsh and his research team for several years to test technological advancements in mango production including an auto-harvester and a sensor which monitors flowering to predict maturity, enabling growers to plan labour.
The auto-harvester which picked fruit at Groves' farm last season, was about three years away from becoming a commercial reality, he said.
Groves Grown Tropical Fruit produces five mango varieties, three avocado varieties, lychees and carambola over some 100 hectares.
Piñata Farms' key account manager, Rebecca Scurr, said the Grower of the Year award considered a grower's packout rate, excellence in grower practices, communication and administrative efforts.
"Groves Grown Tropical Fruit also demonstrates willingness to innovate and commercial flexibility - key attributes crucial to growing a specialty line," she said.
Piñata Farms and its growers produce Honey Gold mangoes in five states for national distribution between November and March.
Source: Pinata Farms