A little late, but durian will be cheaper [NSTTV]

GEORGE TOWN: Durian lovers are in for some bad news and good news. The bad news? They may have to wait a little longer than usual to enjoy the King of Fruits, thanks to the hot and dry spell Penang has been experiencing over the past few months.

The good news? They can expect a bountiful harvest this year and the season may stretch right up to October.

What's more, they need not dig deep into their pockets to savour the thorny, pungent fruit.

According to Ng Wei Dave, 42, who manages his family's durian orchard in Sungai Ara here, by this time last year, his over 400 durian trees of various species were already fruiting.

This year, he said, only a few trees were fruiting while the majority of the durian trees were flowering.

He said the hot and dry spell the state had been experiencing over the past few months had contributed to the situation, the first he had seen in many years.

To compound matters, he said, there was also an absence of wind.

"Around this time last year, we could already see many fruits on our durian trees. For example, the first harvest of our Musang King was in May (last year). This time around, it is much less because of the change in weather and the lack of water (rainfall). Our Musang King has just started flowering and it will take about 100 days before the first harvest.

"But not all is bad. Our trees which used to flower only twice, are now flowering up to four times. This means there will be more fruits this year... a bountiful harvest.

"And with more fruits, the durian prices will not be as high as last year. Every one will get to enjoy their favourite fruit," he told the New Straits Times when met at his orchard.

Ng's orchard is known among durian lovers for his Hor Lor species, trees as old as four decades, planted by his grandfather.

The orchard, spanning 4.4ha, has durian trees of between 15 and 20 varieties. They include Hor Lor, Musang King, Or Chee (Black Thorn), XO, D604, Red Prawn, Ganja, Ang Bak Kia, D111, D11, D101, Xiao Hong and Tekka.

Ng said with more flowering, in four separate phases, the durian season this year could stretch right up to even October compared with the usual season from June to August.

He said, for a start, his orchard may produce the first batch of Hor Lor, and the D111 and D101 (both are durian kawin) species by early June. Even then, the fruits would not be aplenty.

"Durian kawin only takes about six weeks to bear fruit while the other species between 100 and 120 days," he said, adding that besides durian, he grows cempedak king, nangka and bananas in the orcard.

For this durian season, Ng expects to use 16 tonnes of fertiliser.

During the peak period in past seasons, Ng collected between 300kg and 350kg of durians daily.

Every morning between 3am and 6am, Ng's workers would collect durians that fall into the netting. They would clean the fruits before Ng separates them according to variety.

At 7am, a wholesaler would collect them for distribution and sale.

Penang island has about 200 durian farms, with the majority located in Balik Pulau.

During the Movement Control Order, durian sellers took to social media to sell the fruit after the Penang Island City Council prohibited its sale at roadside stalls.

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories