19 August, 2020
CQ producer wins Honey Gold award
Australia’s exclusive producer of specialty Honey Gold mangoes, Piñata Farms, has this week named a Central Queensland family business as the 2020 Honey Gold Grower of the Year.
Benaraby’s Ian and Gloria Pershouse and son Scott, of IH and GA Pershouse, received the annual award for growing excellence, quality and communication for the 2019-2020 season.
Ian Pershouse said the family, which had a mango-growing tradition spanning 70 years, had grown Honey Golds since varietal founder, the late Noel Sammon, discovered a unique natural cross in his Rockhampton orchard 20 years ago.
However, the family's mango experience dated back to the 1950s when Mr Pershouse's father Charlie planted his first Kensington Pride seed.
"We'd been growing mangoes in a small way for some time and were the only growers in this region,” Mr Pershouse said.
“We first saw Honey Golds at a field day and were impressed with the golden skin colour and beautiful texture. At the time, we were looking for something special to graft onto the root stock of 1000 trees and the Honey Gold variety was it.
“As a result, we became one of the first producers to take up the variety.”
Mr Pershouse said the market took to Honey Golds immediately.
“In the early days we sent fruit directly to Brisbane and Sydney,” Mr Pershouse said.
“When Piñata Farms acquired the breeding rights, it already had a foot in the door with the supermarket chains and the variety has gone from strength to strength in consumer appeal.
The Pershouses are among 30 third-party growers around Australia who produce the Honey Gold variety under contract to Piñata Farms between November and March.
The family has about 7000 mango trees, including 4300 Honey Gold trees, under cultivation near Awoonga Dam.
Mr Pershouse said the family was excited to win the award.
“We’re among a great team of Honey Gold growers and we all work together to put in our best efforts,” Mr Pershouse said. “It’s great to be acknowledged for that.
“In my experience the Honey Gold mango variety is consistent and reliable, and produces a good to moderate crop each year.
“We also pay close attention to growing practices like the timing and frequency of the spray program, pruning straight after harvest, having leaf and soil samples taken to analyse nutrient requirements and so on.”
Mr Pershouse said the family’s crop was now in flower and due for harvesting in January. They will employ about 35 mostly local workers to pick and pack the fruit during the harvest period.
Piñata Farms sales and marketing manager, Rebecca Scurr, said the award was decided unanimously. The Pershouse family had produced beautiful fruit with high bloom and vibrancy.
She said the primary concern for all growers was sourcing adequate labor for the upcoming harvest.
“The harvest season is due to start at our farms in the Northern Territory in November, and in Queensland by December,” Ms Scurr said. “We'll need about 60 pickers in the Northern Territory, and the Queensland third-party growers have varying needs.
“Some growers have already started talking with backpacker hostels in their towns to try to lock in seasonal workers. Many of our growing regions are also tourist destinations so we’re hoping the backpackers who are there now will stay on and be available for work.
“We will continue to work closely with growers and the industry on this as the season approaches.”