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Disruption caused by Omicron
A real mixed bag
Late last week I canvassed growers regarding the impact of Omicron restrictions. There was a mixed bag of responses, from very disruptive to barely manageable. It was clear the smaller the business the less effected, the larger the business the bigger the ripple effect due to the reliance of larger workforces.
One grower, who asked not to be named, said his greenhouse operation had multiple staff away for more than three weeks, which was placing huge strain on the remaining staff. Pre-covid contracting additional workers to cover the seasonal workflow was available but currently there is no opportunities to bring in contractors as there simply are not any available.
Other growers have been pre-planning by changing planting dates to try and navigate through the omicron peak and hope the second wave is in the distant future.
Cucumbers and Tomatoes: Without understanding every grower’s circumstances, it is near impossible to predict if volumes will be similar this winter to last years. Delayed autumn plantings may be useful in providing a strong April-June return and it may help flatten out the market with the delayed plantings coming into production in July and August.
Depending on the market in Australia and if shipping movements are back to 3-5 days, we could see a large influx of Australian tomatoes this winter.
Cost of Goods:
The inflationary pressures are being felt by all growers with the cost of supplies increasing. The only option to absorb these costs is to pass it on. In a commodity driven supply and demand market this is difficult, and this may stop growers from planting at all. Growers that able to continue as planned should, unless effected by external factors, should see stable returns again this winter.
The energy availability and affordability may have a bearing on production outcomes. Not enough heat equals less production, which means less fruit, which equals higher prices or more imported (huge carbon footprint) vegetables to fill the gap.
Pepino Mosaic Virus (PepMV tomatoes):
For the tomato growers the effects of Pepino Mosaic Virus seem to be playing by the rule book so far. High light levels have appeared to help reduce the worst effects of the virus. Fruit blotching issues seen last winter have been harder to spot in the supermarkets over summer. However, the true test will be this winter, it will be a nervous wait for growers unsure how their crops will perform if they had a green bridge or were not able to sterilise the greenhouses completely between crops.
Article written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic
All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic
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