The Victorian cherry industry consists of about 100 growers who have around 800 hectares of cherries in production.
Growers are located in four main regions:
- Goulburn Valley (Tatura, Cobram),
- North East Victoria (Wangaratta, Stanley),
- Central Victoria (Alexandra, Yarck, Strathbogie, Euroa)
- Southern Victoria (Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Gisborne)
Annual production is around 4000 tonnes with a value of $25-30 million (based on $6.50/kg). The crop is expected to increase considerably in the next 5 years as new plantings come into production.
The cherry industry employs an average of 4-6 people per hectare resulting in a work force of 3000 – 5000 (during harvest season).Wages and on-costs paid to these workers amounts to $15-18 million annually.
Cherry production costs - including training, pruning, water, fertilizer, pest & weed control and other orchard activities - is about $10,000/ha/year. Annually growers would spend approx $8 million producing their crop.
In addition to the annual operating costs, it costs around $20,000 - $40,000 per hectare to establish an orchard. To plant and maintain this planting until it comes into production in year 5 or 6 will cost between $60,000 and $120,000. These costs include the cost of the tree, soil preparation, fertilizers, weed control, pest and disease control, installation of irrigation. The amount will vary depending on the planting density of the trees and whether they are planted on trellis.
If growers intend to pack their own fruit then it will cost in excess of $1million to purchase and set up their shed & grading equipment.
Water for irrigation is vital if cherries are to be grown successfully. Water use will vary depending on where the orchard is established.
Northern Victoria: 5Ml / Ha
Central Victoria: 3Ml / Ha
Southern Victoria: 1Ml / Ha
Water returns around $10,000/ML in the northern areas and up to $50,000/ML in southern areas to the Victorian economy.
Annually the cherry industry contributes in excess of $60 million to the economy of Victoria.