Sweet berry surprise

http://media.apnonline.com.au/img/media/images/2012/04/28/BNM_28-04-2012_NEWS_04_BUN270412SSS10_t325.jpg
Thanh Tam Dang

THE fruit has come early this year for one of the biggest strawberry farms in the region.

Tam Dang, co-owner of SSS Strawberries, said their season had started about a month earlier than they had expected.

Pickers were out in force yesterday in the strawberry fields taking advantage of the early arrival of the fruit.

Mr Dang said the picking season normally started in late May or early June.

He said he was not sure why the season had started early, but he suspected careful nurturing of their plants was one reason.

You could also say the weather had something to do with it,” he said.

Mr Dang said the picking would go on until about November.

He said the produce from the farm would be sold to supermarkets and fruit shops locally and interstate.

“We’re still looking for an industry we can sell our seconds to,” he said.

“During the year we throw away a lot of fruit that is not perfect.”

The majority of the pickers were backpackers, but he said the company did employ a few locals full time.

Despite the early start, Mr Dang said he expected to pick about the same amount of fruit this season as last year.

That was 20,000-30,000kg a day, for a total of about 1000 tonnes over the season.

Tinaberries co-owner Bruce McPherson, who was enjoying a scone with strawberry jam and cream when the NewsMail called yesterday, said they were nowhere near picking yet.

“We’re still planting,” he said.

Mr McPherson said Tinaberries grew later fruiting varieties, which they believed tasted better.

“Our very first pick will probably be at the end of May,” he said.

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This article was written by the NewsMail Bundaberg. http://www.news-mail.com.au/story/2012/04/28/sweet-berry-surprise/