Super citrus surge on the Tablelands
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Horticulturist Ebony Faichney said a recent grower survey revealed the rapid rise of citrus with 124 growers planting an area of more than 1100 hectares.
“The region is now Australia’s largest producer of limes, red-fleshed oranges and pummelos,” Ms Faichney said.
“The survey details a unique citrus farming landscape with most orchards less than 5 hectares in size and businesses often combining citrus crops with other fruit trees, particularly mango and avocados.
“This is in contrast to the traditional large scale citrus businesses found in southern production regions.”
Oscar Bugno, an active player within the far North Queensland citrus industry for the last 25 years, has long awaited a report like this.
“The citrus industry is a significant component of the Atherton Tablelands agricultural economy and is expanding,” Mr Bugno said.
“This report confirms the significant size of the local citrus industry and its contribution to our economy.
“We hope this information will bring new investment in research and development to support our local growers.
“The domestic citrus market is fairly strong, but we also need to look at exporting overseas to sustain our local lemon and lime industries in the longer term, like orange and mandarin have done.
“Biosecurity is also a priority to protect local growers. We must ensure we have a rigorous surveillance program and be prepared if any incursions were to occur.”
Ms Faichney said she was overwhelmed by the response to the DAF survey.
“The value of this work lies within the volume of responses, and the 100% participation rate says it all,” she said.
“I am confident this information will make a difference to the future of citrus RD&E within the area.
“There are already plans in place to expand the lime, lemon, mandarin, grapefruit and pummelo industries. Citrus will continue to be a significant part of the Atherton Tablelands agricultural profile into the future.”