In-field research has identified wind blemish as one of the main factors causing fruit to be downgraded. This severely impacts farmer incomes. However, follow-up surveys found very low levels of awareness of this among farmers and extension staff. Firstly, other causes of blemish from diseases or pests are often confused with wind blemish. Secondly, during the harvesting by contractors and on-sale to marketers, there is little feedback about quality issues such as wind blemish.
Downgraded fruit reduces the volumes available for export and reduces the value of the overall crop and the financial returns to farmers and others in the value chain. As the first step of a campaign to address this issue, extension staff undertook hands-on assessment of Kinnow mandarins in the orchard and after picking.
The next stage will scale out this knowledge to farmers and discuss opportunities and barriers to reducing wind blemish.