Almonds abuzz with predictions of bumper harvest

Victoria's almond harvest is thriving, after beekeepers beat virus restrictions

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THRIVING CROP: Border closures have failed to hinder the pollination of Victoria's almond crop.

THRIVING CROP: Border closures have failed to hinder the pollination of Victoria's almond crop.

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Border closures no match for the bees.

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Victoria's almond harvest is thriving, with expectations of a bumper crop, despite dry seasonal conditions and border movement restrictions, caused by coronavirus.

Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes said the government had ensured beekeepers were able to get to the crops, which represent about 65 per cent of Australia's total export production value.

"Victoria exports more than $500 million of almonds each year, making it one of our most valuable horticultural products - that's why it was so vital to ensure border closures didn't stop the bee-dependent pollination process," Ms Symes said.

"We've worked with agricultural businesses throughout this pandemic to make sure they can keep operating and will keep helping them adapt so Victorians enjoy our high-quality produce."

Each year, about 140,000 beehives are transported in an epic journey between Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria to pollinate the country's 15 million almond trees

Of those 6.6 million trees are in Victoria.

In 2020, interstate border controls across Australia threatened to stop the bee movement.

Agriculture Victoria hosted a series of meetings with beekeepers, the almond industry and relevant state governments who worked together to find solutions to safe entry and exit from orchards in a rapidly changing environment.

Almond pollination provides significant economic benefit to the apiary industry as well as the local community who rely on the annual crop.

The cooperation of industry and government has enabled the continued growth and harvest of the high-quality Victorian produce that people enjoy world-wide and brought assurance to the communities that financially rely on this crop.

The work which ensured the 2020 almond pollination season went ahead is particularly pertinent with 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health with the theme "protecting plants, protecting life."

Almond Board of Australia chief executive Ross Skinner said the industry appreciated Agriculture Victoria's efforts to keep all stakeholders up to date with changes, and provide safe passage of beehives, handlers and staff at border checkpoints.

"The movement of hives has enabled the pollination of the 2021 crop that will provide much needed support to the economic wellbeing of our producing regions,' Mr Skinner said.

Support is available for Victorian producers to make the operational changes necessary to continue to operate in a COVIDSafe way. For more information visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/agworkforceplan.

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