First mangoes of the season picked and packed

MANGO MAGIC: Liza Dumoulin from France was packing mangoes today.
MANGO MAGIC: Liza Dumoulin from France was packing mangoes today.

The weather is heating up which means mangoes are about to hit our shelves.

Katherine is one of the biggest mango growing regions in Australia with more than 180,000 trees.

It is renowned for the quality of mangoes produced and sold on the southern markets before Queensland production enters its peak.

Katherine’s mango harvest season began late last week and Manbulloo Mango’s environmental manager Sarah Grogan said it is going to be a good one. 

“It looks like it is going to be a really good season with some really quality fruit,” Ms Grogan said. 

“The trees are really healthy after a big wet season. Everyone is really excited about the quality of the fruit this year because the trees are really healthy.

“We have 41,000 trees on this orchard, it is a big orchard and new trees have gone in this year as well.”

This year is Ms Grogan’s first mango season in Katherine. 

“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.”

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. 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.”

Plantation manager Andrew Bagley, environmental manager Sarah Grogan and harvest manager Craig Smith.

Plantation manager Andrew Bagley, environmental manager Sarah Grogan and harvest manager Craig Smith.

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.”

Manbulloo managing director Marie Piccone was inducted into Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame earlier this year.