Avacado's grow well in new area

     
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crossman 008_-_CopyThe decision to plant an avacado orchard in an area not traditionally recognised for their growth has been quite successful for Andrew and Sarah Crossman.

In 2005 the busy couple planted 210 trees on a property west of Echuca and seven years on their dream has turned into reality.

The plantings now cover 7 hectares, 1000 trees and 11 different varieties which are grown to fruit almost year round. The couple are now able to sell fruit from June right through to March.

The trees are a picture of health- glossy green leaves and full of fruit- the northern Victorian climate obviously agrees with them.

“Avocado’s grow in a wide range of soils but they prefer sand – they have to be well drained and you can’t afford to have them sit in water for any length of time. Our climate is very suitable but unlike Queensland we also have the added risk of frost and extreme heat.”

The orchard is watered with micro sprays on drip lines and is heavily mulched.

“Avocados are a high water usage tree as they get older so in the future we will invest in moisture probes to help with water efficiencies and overhead sprays to help cool the trees.

“When the temperature gets above 37, the sprays help create humidity which prevents heat stress and stops fruit drop.”

The couple are also looking at a furtigation system so they can fertilise the trees using the drip line.

Eventually the orchard will get to the stage where it will produce commercial quantities of fruit. Currently the Crossman’s sell their bounty at local markets, to restaurants and to the fruit and vegetable shop in Echuca.

“Growing avocados is time consuming but rewarding. The one thing that scares us about the future of the industry is imported fruit- it has the potential to shut the whole thing down. It is so important that Australians support the Australian agricultural industry.”

The busy couple also have other varieties of fruit trees in the orchard including stone fruit and apples, as well as berries and grapes. They also pick zucchini flowers which are sold to restaurants in Echuca.

“Our original drive behind establishing the orchard was to value adds to the property, and create an income stream that has the potential for us to live off in the future”

“At the moment we will focus on the local market and wholesaling to Melbourne and Sydney

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