Queensland pineapples will be left to rot in fields as farmers struggle to keep up with a prematurely ripened crop. Unseasonal winter rain caused a mass natural flowering event on farms across the state, resulting in fruit coming online all at once rather than in staggered intervals.
Central Queensland grower Ben Clifton grows the fruit in Bungundarra, about 50 kilometres north of Rockhampton. He fears he would lose about a quarter of this crop. "It's not that we haven't got more fruit to pick," he said. "The fruit's getting more mature than what we're able to sell. In every direction, I look, I can see colored pineapple that won't be eaten."
Clifton said they had passed their optimal fruit maturity peak, which means each week, they'll be able to harvest less and less as the fruit will be too ripe. "We probably had about a 5 per cent reject rate last week on what was unsuitable for market whereas this week that's bumped up to about 30 per cent," he said
This will have a major impact on farmers' bottom lines as well as the rising costs of fuel, fertiliser and staff.