Spring is here, and I am looking forward to warmer weather!

Hello to our growers, stakeholders, and industry members. I have to say, I am looking forward to some warmer weather. This weather reminds me of the early 1970s. I was just a young boy back then. Living on the farm (in Carnarvon), I distinctly remember this type of weather at this time of year. The weeds are loving it, which creates extra work for growers to maintain on-farm hygiene and they cause issues with harvesting — especially tomatoes.

Labour continues to be an issue in our industry. The prices are exceptionally good, which is a positive, but you need to produce a premium product to get high prices and with this weather it is extremely challenging.

The Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Dinner was held this year, and the usual suspects where there, which was great to see. It gave me an opportunity to catch up with the Agriculture Minister Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC., growers and friends to discuss Carnarvon and Horticulture in a social environment. The locally-grown produce was very well presented by the chefs and as usual it was delicious! Congratulations must go to The Gascoyne Food Council and the Chair Paul Kelly on producing another successful event. If there was anything that I would change about the event is that I would revert to a Long Table Lunch instead of the dinner; I just feel like the lunch createsan anticipated atmosphere and warmth (literally) to the event.

The prices for vegetable products have been exceptionally good this season. My sources at Market City say ‘they do not look like coming down any time soon’.

On the other hand, labour is still a major issue. However, I have noticed that there are more backpackers coming into town looking for work, which has enabled us to grow our workforce. There are a lot of ads out on social media to entice them to come to Carnarvon as there is plenty of work available, however, there is a problem with housing in this region and with the new workers coming into town, accommodation is becoming a problem. There are little-to-no rentals available, which makes it an immediate issue for workers to put a roof over their heads. With all these issues in our industry, growers are working harder, especially this season, just to get the produce to market.

With the labour shortage, we have struggled to harvest the produce in the period that we are accustomed to. I do not like the cold but fortunately it has been a chilly winter here in Carnarvon, which has allowed the capsicums to stay on the vine longer to ripen bright red before harvesting. The tomatoes on the other hand need to be harvested more regularly, otherwise they will become too ripe for market. It certainly has been a juggling act this season for growers identifying what to do when with labour at a short supply.
Prices for vegetable products have been exceptionally good this season.
GASCOYNE Food Festival Long Table Dinner.The wet weather has created some fungi problems with tomatoes (Black Spot). Talking with growers, some have it worse than others, however, it can be managed if you catch it early enough. Fortunately, the market price of premium Roma tomatoes is currently at $80 per 10kg carton. The weather up here should start to warm up in September and the crop will need to be harvested more regularly.

vegetablesWA has a new CEO Stephen Brown and I would like to welcome Stephen into the organisation. Stephen was a standout in the interview process, demonstrating why he was the most suitable of the candidates. Stephen was formally the CEO of WA Farmers and has a background in finance. Stephen is well prepared to hit the ground running as the industry has challenges moving forward, with water issues being high on the agenda.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Manus Stockdale for his work in the difficult role of Acting CEO. His arduous work has made it possible for a smooth transition for Stephen Brown to take the reins.

I would also like to thank Catherine O’Keeffe for her professionalism and great guidance on the interview panel for the CEO role at vegetablesWA. I thank you Catherine on behalf of all of vegetablesWA. APC are very wellplaced because of Catherine in the role of Acting CEO of Agriculture Produce Commission while Ingrid is away on Long Service Leave.

Well, it is time for me to go — work as grower is constant. I have a Freshcare Audit coming up and I must get cracking!

Stay well and safe everyone.
Contact Dan Kuzmicich on 0408 910 761 or