Home' Grower : November 2010 Contents The South Australian Grower -- November 2010
Apricot Grove puts reliability first
Long term solution
needed for the Basin
SECOND generation fruit grower Jim Sourtzis
says a plan is definitely needed for the survival
of the Murray Darling Basin, but the problem
cannot be fixed overnight.
"The Murray Darling Basin is in trouble, we all
know it. But it has taken many years to get it to
where it is, so we can expect it to take many
years to fix," Mr Sourtzis said.
"A longer term plan would not only be much
easier to implement, it would also give growers
a better opportunity to plan their futures".
Jim says if the up to 30 per cent cuts are
implemented over the next few years, it would
have a huge effect on the Sourtzis family's
business, as farming 30pc less is not an option.
"Horticultural land is not like broadacre -- we
have to utilise all our land, as it costs money --
for us it is a matter of sustaining all our viable
land," Mr Sourtzis said.
"We cannot produce peaches and nectarines
on 6m/l a hectare -- fresh fruit has to look
pretty and taste good -- to get these factors you
need the water."
Jim said that if the cuts were to be made over
the next 10 years it would have less of an
Jim's father has been on the property for 40
years and their brand, Riverland Sunfresh, has
been a direct supplier to South Australian Coles
Supermarkets for 35 years.
The Sourtzis family currently produces 1500
tonnes of nectarines, peaches and pears a year,
as well as packing and marketing for other
growers in the area.
Mr Sourtzis believes the producers are aware
of the environmental issues in the basin and
want to rectify them, but not at the cost of their
"We all realise the environmental impact of
not dealing with the Murray, but I don't think
we can point our fingers at the growers," Mr
"We have done what we have been asked all
these years, but because people have over-
allocated their resource they are in trouble, and
they are coming back and asking growers to
CHARLIE Ppiros (pictured) says his relationship with
his customers is one of the things that makes his
fresh stonefruit orchard, Apricot Grove, so successful.
Charlie's clients do not just demand high quality fruit,
they also need reliability of supply, and Apricot Grove
prides itself on supplying premium level apricots to
its customers on a consistent basis.
Charlie has been working his farm since 1979, with
the property originally planted to citrus and vines with
some apricots. In 1994, Charlie invested heavily in the
business and transformed the property into a stonefruit
orchard. The family-owned business now has 15,000
trees, 80 per cent of which are apricots for the fresh
All of Apricot Grove's produce is packed on-farm,
allowing Charlie to maintain control of the fruit
throughout the production, sales and distribution
chain. The fresh fruit is mainly sold interstate to
supermarkets and wholesale markets.
Charlie is still unsure how the proposed Murray
Darling Basin plan will affect the business, but he is
well aware of how harmful water cuts can be to the
Relying 100pc on irrigated water supplies from the
Murray River, Apricot Grove is still suffering from the
extremely low amounts of water allocated over the
past four years. Charlie says its not only the
water allocation that affects the fruit.
"Water quality is also very important to us.
Water quality declines as less and less water
passes through the system. It becomes more
salty. Not only are you then applying salty water
to your orchard, but if you are not watering
adequately, salt builds up in the soil, causing
He says he has seen trees that are stressed
from under-watering and this affects all aspects
of the fruit, including taste, size and production
"A tree that is not being properly watered will
not produce a marketable crop, and it will not
do so until it has been adequately watered for
at least two years." he said.
Charlie emphasises the need to ensure the
long-term health and viability of the Murray
Darling river system and accepts that this will
involve increasing flows for environmental uses.
"Before they take the first drop of water from
food producers they should explore all other
available sources of water, including basin-wide
irrigation infrastructure upgrades to industry
best practices standards, improvements to the
engineering and design of water storage and
alternative water sources other than the river
basin. Many irrigators, both here in South
Australia and interstate, are already very
efficient in their use of water on-farm.
"It is in water delivery structures that the
improvements need to be made. Water security is
part of Australia's critical infrastructure and as
such, responsibility for it lands squarely in the lap
of State and Federal governments."
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