Australia Weather News

Australian shoppers can expect to pay more for cucumbers in the coming weeks after a dust storm wiped out crops in a significant supply region.

Late last month winds from ex-Tropical Cyclone Mangga whipped the mid-west region of Western Australia.

Along with damaging houses and destroying fences, wind and sand also ruined cucumber crops which were ready to be picked.

The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has contacted numerous growers in Geraldton and confirmed most suffered damage to some extent.

One of the largest continental cucumber growers in Geraldton is 4 Ways Fresh Produce.

General manager Kingsley Songer said about 20 per cent of the company's planted crops were destroyed, costing it between $120,000 and $150,000.

"We lost a significant amount; about 10,000 plants got shredded, 20 greenhouses had their roofs torn off," he said.

"We were about to do our third pick.

"Crops were just starting to get into full bearing — they were in prime condition, they looked good too."

Consequently, Mr Songer said a shortage in supply would push cucumber prices up.

"We have seen a price spike to some extent, not all just because of the storm, but that certainly didn't help," he said.

"We've seen the price rise since the middle of April; generally you get a bit of that at this time of year, but we're seeing it move a bit quicker and maybe slightly higher than normal.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it firm up a little more yet; it will for the next month or two at least, it just depends what the [overall] supply coming out of Geraldton is going to be like."

WA the major national supplier

While continental cucumbers are grown across Australia, two major supply regions are Virginia in South Australia and Geraldton in WA.

Mr Songer says the SA crops are finishing now, which usually coincides with picking beginning in WA.

"Primarily we'll be relying on fruit out of Geraldton until the end of September," he said.

"There's a bit grown around Perth, and a few other areas, but the two major regions for continental cucumbers, and to some extent Lebanese [cucumbers], is the Mid West and north of Adelaide."

Mr Songer said the company had since planted its remaining greenhouses and would continue to source cucumbers from Geraldton until the end of September.

Market West's Perth market price report showed a 22-litre crate of cucumbers from the Mid West averaged between $15–$18 on May 29, compared to $10–$12.50 at the end of April.