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US to get a taste of Bundaberg's lovely lychees

LONG-TIME LYCHEE LOVER: Bundaberg's Vicky De Louwer has packed lychees at Electra Farms for 12 years.
LONG-TIME LYCHEE LOVER: Bundaberg's Vicky De Louwer has packed lychees at Electra Farms for 12 years. Eliza Goetze

THERE has never been a better time to be a lychee farmer.

Bundaberg grower Derek Foley has had a bumper crop this year and is preparing to send his first shipment to the US and Canada.

 

The export deal has been years in the making, and also helps ensure prices stay competitive on the domestic market.

On his property Electra Farms near Pine Creek, where he grows eight varieties, Mr Foley expects to produce 100 tonnes this season - 25 up on last year.

 

PICKING AND PACKING: Barry Wells, Lucky Kerolen, Sharon Boyton, Angelita Mann and Chloee Wells packing lychees on Electra Farms.
PICKING AND PACKING: Barry Wells, Lucky Kerolen, Sharon Boyton, Angelita Mann and Chloee Wells packing lychees on Electra Farms. Eliza Goetze

The president of the Australian Lychee Growers Association said 60-70% of lychees grown in Australia are destined for overseas shelves.

Plenty of effort has gone into ensuring US export protocols are met by Australian growers, right down to the tiny holes in the bags that line each box of lychees.

"You have to have all your ducks lined up in a row," Mr Foley said.

 

BOOM TIME: Derek Foley has had a bumper crop of lychees this season and will be exporting to the US for first time.
BOOM TIME: Derek Foley has had a bumper crop of lychees this season and will be exporting to the US for first time. Eliza Goetze

Ideally it will take three to five days from Bundaberg tree to US supermarket shelf.

Growers in northern Queensland have already begun shipping to the states.

Right now the market price for lychees is around $45 for a 5kg box.

 

FRESH FROM THE FIELD: Lychees are stripped of leaves and washed on their way to being packed for sale.
FRESH FROM THE FIELD: Lychees are stripped of leaves and washed on their way to being packed for sale. Eliza Goetze

"It has been as high as $100 a box - you feel criminal taking it ... but you take it," he laughed.

Good prices mean reinvestment in the local industry.

"We never stand still here," Mr Foley said in his packing shed.

 

FRESH FROM THE FIELD: Lychees are stripped of leaves and washed on their way to being packed for sale.
FRESH FROM THE FIELD: Lychees are stripped of leaves and washed on their way to being packed for sale. Eliza Goetze

"We upgraded our packing gear this year, so with the same number of people, we're doing half as much again."

The lychee picking season runs for six or seven weeks each year, and this year will finish around January 25.

 

AMERICAN DREAM: Local lychees are on their way to the USA.
AMERICAN DREAM: Local lychees are on their way to the USA.

Topics:  export lychee lychees usa


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