Mangoes are the quintessential Aussie fruit in summer and they are ready to be devoured in Katherine.
Harvest season has just begun for one of the Northern Territory’s biggest mango producers, Manbulloo Mangoes.
It is the first mango season in Katherine for Manbulloo Mango’s environmental manager Sarah Grogan.
“The CEO wanted to improve the overall environmental management in our mango production,” Ms Grogan said.
“I am watching the processes from the paddock to the packing shed to see if there are any improvements we can make to be more sustainable.”
There are about 100 people employed at the farm from pickers to packers.
“We use a lot of seasonal workers from Samoa and Vanuatu.
“A lot of those blokes have been coming here to work for six years,” Ms Grogan said.
“Our harvest manager is really happy about that because it takes time to train people, so it is great when we have the same blokes coming back each year.
“Even when it is 40 degrees, in the middle of the day they are always smiling and give you a wave,” she said.
“The packing line is a combination of Katherine locals and some backpackers.
“It is great having local people because they have their own transport and accommodation.”
Ms Grogan said timing was key to growing delicious mangoes.
“Timing is really important. Knowing when to prune, fertilize and water the tree is a big thing up here in Katherine,” Ms Grogan said.
“The growth of the fruit really depends on temperature.
“We had long period of consistent evening temperatures this year in Katherine and that impacts on how the fruit grows, so it made it a slightly later harvest.
“Flowering started happening in May and we have just started to harvest in the last few days,” she said.
“Flowering to harvest usually takes about 90 days. I am amazed on how it starts off as this tiny ball then grows into a massive mango.”
Ms Grogan said there are a few ways shoppers can pick a good mango.
“When buying mangoes, make sure it is filled out with no pointy bits at the bottom. The colour needs to be right, it should smell good and have good ‘shoulders’ on it,” she said.
“Prices should remain pretty consistent. The bulk of our fruit goes to Coles but we also export to the USA, Korea and China.”
The first ever shipment of Manbulloo mangoes was exported to the USA this time last year, the first time the NT exported to the States.
Most of Katherine’s mango farms, which have quickly grown in number to be the biggest in the nation, are in the early stages of the harvest which will continue well into the wet season.