King of fruits returns after extreme weather

By John Bunyan

KUALA KANGSAR, April 1 — After a heatwave that affected the yield of durians last year, lovers of the fruit can look forward to sinking their teeth into the savoury and creamy flesh as trees have flowered in abundance this year.

Durian cultivator, Chong Ah Kim, 53, said trees in his 4ha orchard in Kampung Batu Bantal, Padang Rengas near here are flowering.

Describing it as a relief, Chong said almost all his trees did not produce any fruit due to the hot weather last year.

“I also lost some 20 trees,” he told Malay Mail when met at his home recently.

“This year the trees have started to flower and I hope the weather continues to be favourable to allow the flowers to mature into fruits; it’s about a three-month process.”

Chong, who had been cultivating durian for 16 years, said he suffered significant losses last year as he could not meet demand.

“During durian season, I earn about RM10,000 but last year I only managed RM5,000.

“I believe this year will be better as I have received orders from wholesalers here and in Taiping.”

Chong, whose orchard produces durian kampung and the much sought after Musang King, said he would plant new trees to replace those that died last year.

“I have to wait up to seven or eight years before they mature and produce fruit.”

Fellow cultivator Samsudin Abdul Halim, 66, said he lost nearly all his trees last year.

“Only four of my 40 trees survived as I watered them daily because they are close to my house.

“I am lucky as durians are not my sole business,” said Samsudin, who had been cultivating the fruit for 40 years.

This year he hopes to make a small profit from the four surviving trees.

“The weather has been good for the past two months with intermittent rain. I hope it will continue throughout the fruit-bearing season. 

Last year, Malay Mail visited durian orchards in Padang Rengas and found cultivators were going through hard times, which led to a fruit shortage and price hike.