Shoalhaven oyster growers are in for a bumper Christmas period, according to legendary Greenwell Point farmer Jim Wild.
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And the former world champion opener should know, having farmed in the Shoalhaven/Crookhaven rivers for many years.
“I’ve been doing this for a lot of years and this is the best year we have ever had,” he said.
“Definitely the best I have ever seen.
“We have abundant supplies and are set for as bumper year.”
The at times wild storms which have battered parts of the South Coast over the past few weeks, producing 78 millimeters of rain in December (more than three inches on the old scale), has created some issues for growers, while the drought, especially over the winter season, has also affected returns.
“Whenever we get more than two inches of rain the river is virtually automatically closed by the Food Authority,” Mr Wild said.
“That was the case earlier in month but we managed to harvest a good number of oysters before the closure.
“The authorities are concerned about run off. We have done all the testing, of both water quality and oyster meat, and they have all come back clear and we have been reopened for business which is great.
“The drought has also had an effect - we really didn't get enough rain during the winter and the oysters didn’t grow as well as usual.
“We need a certain amount of freshwater to reduce the salinity in the river to allow the oysters to grow.
“People don’t realise the oysters also grow the shell and need a certain amount of salinity for that. But they also need a certain amount of freshwater for the oyster itself to grow.
“When the salinity is too high they simply won’t grow.
“The oysters are a bit down in size this year but their volume is incredible.
“I have never see them so good, especially for this time of the year.
“They don't usually peak until January but this year they are peaking at the right time for Christmas. The fresh has been perfect.
“It’s going to be a bumper season.
“There are 10 growers at Greenwell Point so get on down and support them.”
Mr Wild estimates between now and the end of 2018 his business alone will sell between 2500 and 3000 dozen oysters.
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