AU: Heat biggest challenge for local growers in New South Wales
When the Manning Valley region experiences 32-degree days, Deborah says the tunnels can heat up to around 43 degrees. "It's too hot, they lose their flower, they're heat stressed, and the fruit just wants to ripen up the whole plant," she said. "Instead of growing slowly and ripening up down the bottom of the vine, they'll just ripen up the whole way up and you don't get any new fruit come on."
There are four tunnels at Manning Valley Tomatoes with 2,500 tomato vines in total.
"With my 2,500 I try to get a 1,000 kilos a month, so that's in a good season," she said. "It'd be really nice to get about five or six kilos off a plant in a season, but I'm lucky if I do two or three."
The tomatoes are a short-term variety called Petula. "I grow them because of the flavour, because they're so sweet, they've got a good shelf life and the customers love them," she said. "I have tried a longer term variety, but I just find that the quality of the fruit is not as nice, so I just stick do these ones."