A meloncholy outlook for farmers

LAST year farmers could not get into the paddocks to harvest their crops, but this year the prices of some fruits are so low some are not bothering to pick them.

Farmers Keith Martens said he was still picking watermelons, but the market was totally oversupplied.

"There are still parts of northern Queensland that are still producing because they haven't really had a wet season," he said.

"Melons are still coming down from the Burdekin area."

Mr Martens said retailers seemed to be very heavily supplied with produce.

"We've got the double whammy," he said.

"Last year with the floods we couldn't pick our fruit, and this year it hardly seems worth it.

"We can't win either way."

Beemart Enterprises owner Nev Beeston said the prices of rockmelons were under the cost of production, and in some cases watermelons were selling for so little it did not even cover the cost of picking and crating.

"Smallcrops growers are going to have a very grim Christmas," he said.

Mr Beeston said because of the floods last summer people who could still get produce to market received very good prices for a while.

Mr Beeston said prices were now low because of a glut in production.

"The dry of the last three months has been the best thing for smallcrops because the farmers could put the water where and when it was needed," he said.

"Most fruit and vegetables grown in Bundaberg are selling way down below cost."

Watermelons are selling for as little as 39 cents a kilogram in the city, while rockmelons are down to $1.49 each.

Mr Beeston said while the quality of the fruit was excellent, there were thousands of tonnes left lying in the paddocks.

"It's going to be a good Christmas for buyers," he said.

Mr Beeston said during the school holidays sales of bananas dropped, so the price was plummeting, while stone fruit would be in reasonably good supply for Christmas.

Don't miss the Wide Bay Rural Weekly in Thursday's NewsMail

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