High hopes for Atherton Tableland coffee harvest
COFFEE producers on the Tableland are expecting an excellent crop due to ideal growing conditions earlier in the year.
Jaques Coffee Plantation business manager Robert Jaques said the wet season had been kind to them, with the shorter season providing the right ingredients for a good harvest.
"It has been a really beautiful year," he said.
Marion MacLaughlin, whose family owns and operates Skybury Coffee near Mareeba, was also expecting a good crop of "cherries", as the beans are called.
"We know we had excellent flowering and excellent growing conditions with even ripening of the cherries…but you never count your chickens," Mrs MacLaughlin said.
Skybury has about 180,000 coffee trees, a reduction from the previous 250,000 to diversify into other fruit such as papaya which, unlike coffee, provide a stable year-round income.
Growing fruit like papaya allowed her and her husband Ian to follow their "passion" for coffee.
Skybury conservatively produces 40-50 tonnes of raw coffee a year, 10-15 per cent of which it roasts for sale on site and the rest split 60-40 between overseas and Australian sales.
While they were in a niche market in this country, they still had to compete with cheaper prices from overseas producers, such as Brazil.
Both Skybury and Jaques have planted a large number of new trees in recent years which will start to produce coffee beans in commercial quantities from next year.
"All our trees are primed and ready to go," said Mr Jaques, whose plantation has increased the number of trees from 25,000 to 85,000.
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Bumper harvest:Tableland coffee growers have high hopes for this year's harvest, which starts this week.