Queensland strawberry producer Piñata Farms Managing Director, Gavin Scurr says the quality of runner plants this year have been lower than previous years, but may be a blessing in disguise.
"The runners that we have been provided this year, are less than ideal," he said. "They come from Victoria and Stanthorpe, and both of those locations have had really tough summers - hot and dry. So the plants that we have planted are not the best plants we have ever planted, in fact they would be close to the worst. However, all the plants that growers wanted to plant are planted. There has been talk that plants would be short that hasn't eventuated, it's the quality of the plants that are less than ideal and the expected yield of the plants is less than they would have been."
But while it sounds grim, from an industry perspective, he said it could turn out to be a positive, as the market has not been able to cope with the high volumes in previous seasons.
"The last couple of winters have been very tough pricing wise," Mr Scurr said. "There has been an oversupply of the fruit, so having less production is a good thing from my point of view, and will align supply more with demand. Hopefully it will stop those prices that are below the cost of production in August-September. If we get a normal winter, I still think that we are still going to get a reduction in volume, but I see that as a positive. Growers haven't reduced planting, so hopefully the quality of plants will knock the edge of the volume, and put a margin in for growers who haven't made a profit for at least three years."