JOHOR BARU: The durian season usually ends in late August or September, but Han Sing Kean has been harvesting fruits 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 fruits drop.
For consumers, this means fewer durians in the market between May and August, though the thorny delicacies are available outside of 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 get to harvest durian during the normal season, but the amount we get is smaller than usual.”
Han’s experience was echoed by other durian farmers The Star spoke to in Johor, who said the king of fruits has been “acting up” this year 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 Francis Hong Sun Ho.
Besides the middle of the year till early September, the durian would usually also be harvested during a brief period between December and January.
But the longer harvesting period has not translated into more earnings for farmers as the overall quantity has declined this year compared with past years.
“The durian yield for each season has dropped to between 20% and 50%. We started seeing this over the past few years, but it became very apparent this year,” said Hong.
This trend is expected to continue in the years to come, he said, adding that it has affected durian more than other seasonal fruits.
“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”.