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Durians ‘acting up’ and quality has dropped, say Johor farmers

JOHOR BAHRU – The durian season usually ends in late August or September, but Mr Han Sing Kean has been harvesting the fruit non-stop at his orchard in Kulai since May.

However, this bumper crop has not translated into more income for him and other farmers because very few of the fruit dropped.

For consumers, this had meant fewer durians in the market between May and August, though the thorny delicacies are available outside the usual season.

“I have been able to harvest durian non-stop since May, except for a short one-week-plus period in between. But the quantity of durian I get during this off-peak season is very small,” said the 47-year-old, who owns 8ha of orchards.

“I still harvested durian during the normal season, but the amount we got is smaller than usual.”

Other durian farmers in Johor The Star spoke to have the same experience as Mr Han. They said the king of fruits has been “acting up” in 2023, while their harvests and income have become as unpredictable as the weather.

“With the weather pattern changing, we are now seeing the fruit falling during months outside of its normal season,” said Malaysian Fruit Farmer’s association vice-president, Mr Francis Hong Sun Ho.

Besides the middle of the year till early September, durians are usually harvested during a brief period between December and January.

But the longer harvesting period in 2023 has not translated into more earnings for farmers as the overall quantity has declined compared with past years.

Mr Hong said: “The durian yield for each season has dropped to between 20 and 50 per cent. We started seeing this over the past few years, but it became very apparent this year.”

This trend is expected to continue in the years to come, he said, adding that it has affected durian more than other seasonal fruits.

He added: “We can see a similar pattern for rambutans, but it is not as obvious as with durians. Normally, the durian season falls between July and August in Johor before the next season at the end of the year.”

He explained that the durian season would vary slightly from state to state or even between districts “but they are usually about the same time”. – THE STAR/ASIAN NEWS NETWORK