Three year-old Ivy Tribe can’t get enough of Queen Garnet Plums.
Three year-old Ivy Tribe can’t get enough of Queen Garnet Plums.

Granite Belt loses its title as top region for a fruity fave

OUR famous plum has lost its sweetness with production dwindling to next to nothing.

The Queen Garnet plum, famed for its health benefits, was created in the Queensland Department of Primary Industries research centre at Applethorpe nearly a decade ago.

But despite its early origins in Stanthorpe, Goulburn Valley is expected to produce up to 70 per cent of what will hit shelves.

"Queensland's crop at Stanthorpe and Inglewood has been severely impacted by the ongoing drought and is down about 90 per cent on last season," Nutrfruit CEO Luke Couch said.

Despite that hit, Nutrafruit Pty Ltd, which holds the global licence to produce and distribute the plum, expects to double the volume sent to market last season.

Mr Couch said it would be the first season for the South Australian crop and at least five new growers from Victoria's Goulburn Valley would begin production.

About 30 growers are contracted to grow Queen Garnets under licence.

"About two thirds of Queen Garnet trees will produce a crop this year, with the Goulburn Valley accounting for about 70 per cent of volume," he said.

"Strategically we grow the plums around Australia to mitigate weather events in any area."

Where possible, fruit was distributed to customers in the same state in which it was grown, he said.

"However, Queensland's fruit this season will chiefly come from New South Wales or Victoria."

It's a blow to Justin Heaven, who works at the Applethorpe research facility where it all began for the variety.

"Trees around here have a very light crop on them," Mr Heaven said.

"The biggest thing is we don't have the number of grower's as other areas. Obviously with a smaller grower base there will be a bigger impact.

"The footprint in which they're grown is far less than lets say apples.

"For us here we mainly have Traprock and Warroo Orchards. A few smaller ones around Stanthorpe.

"The biggest thing people can do is to support local growers.

"The fruit might be smaller or miss-shapen or have marks but don't turn away from it.

"Our growers need support," Mr Heaven said.

The plum will start to arrive in stores nationally from this Australia Day long weekend.