Mangoes are safe from freak storm

WELCOME RAIN: Katherine mango grower Mitchell Curtis is embracing the unseasonal September deluge which has allowed him to turn the irrigation pumps off for the next week. Picture: Eric Barker

WELCOME RAIN: Katherine mango grower Mitchell Curtis is embracing the unseasonal September deluge which has allowed him to turn the irrigation pumps off for the next week. Picture: Eric Barker

KATHERINE mango growers are embracing a record September rain and the cool temperature change it has brought with it.

With about five weeks left until harvest, Katherine mango grower Mitchell Curtis said the rain has allowed him to turn off his irrigation pump and save money.

Mr Curtis said prior to the rain he was irrigating the trees every day.

“Depending on what the weather does, if it stays around for a few days it might be a week-and-a-half until we kick back in,” he said.

“It’s expensive to pump water 100 metres out of the ground so we’re happy not having to do that.”

The Northern Territory Farmers Association said the early rain may increase the risk of fungal disease, Anthracnose, which can cause damage to the fruit.

The association said it was not traditionally an issue in Katherine but there might be more risk this year.

However, Mr Curtis said the the risk of fungal disease was not an issue in Katherine at this stage.

“Most growers would have a fungicide protectant on their trees at the moment and they might have to go and put it back on after the rain,” he said.

“But if its just a two or three day event and then it dries out again we won’t have a problem.”

Katherine is headed for a record September rain total after a Sunday night drenching.

With showers on Monday and the Bureau of Meteorology pointing to more showers during this week, the record for the wettest September from 1986 is almost certain to fall.

While some town backyard gauges recorded much more than the 61mm officially recorded, officially only a single millimetre of rain is needed to beat the 65.4mm monthly total from 30 years ago.

Katherine’s long-term average for September is 7.7mm.

While September has been wet, the rest of the year has been dry with the total for the year about 380mm against a long-term average of 733.2mm because of the failure of this year’s “wet” season.

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