Home' Grower : March 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- March 2012
Bow Hill producer sets high
benchmark for consistency
By LIZ COTTON
THE Smith family has grown
onions and other vegetables
on their Murray River prop-
erty at Bow Hill for more than 40
years, striving to adopt best prac-
tice methods throughout their
But marketing and global pres-
sures continue to throw up chal-
"These have included the
drought and low water alloca-
tion," Yvonne Smith said.
And while the issue of water is
less worrying, she believes "politi-
cal mismanagement" has made
farming extremely difficult for the
"Continuity and the ability to
plan for a given year has been
largely impossible during drought
periods," Yvonne said.
She is hopeful, but realistic,
about what the Murray Darling
Basin Plan can achieve.
"It is still such a long way off
being implemented," she said.
"The MDBA plan may help a
bit, but not much -- politicians will
still make the allocation decisions
and, in doing so, dictate our liveli-
hoods for us."
Despite the challenges presented
at the national level, Yvonne and
husband Kevin have expanded their
Bow Hill Produce operation from
humble beginnings on 8 hectares
with temporary shedding, to an
808ha operation, with an extensive
packing and storage facilities.
Bow Hill Produce has grown
potatoes, pumpkins and carrots,
but the main production line has
always been onions.
The company concentrates on
producing lines of brown, white
and red cultivars, mainly of the
Spanish type, with long storage
potential and high pungency.
"This year we are har vesting
68ha of onions, including 40ha of
brown, 16.9ha of white and 12ha
of red, which will equate to more
than 4000 tonnes of onions,"
While all varieties grown at Bow
Hill suit the hot, dry climate, it is
the challenging white onion --
which cannot be grown well in
many regions -- that sets the
Murray Bridge producer apart.
"We have stuck with much the
same percentage of onion varieties
ever y year, but many growers have
stopped growing whites, particu-
larly as the domestic market for
whites has reduced over the years,
but we have strong export
demand every year," Yvonne said.
Focus on best
By LECHELLE EARL,
Communications and events manager,
ONIONS Australia has decided sustainability will be
the industry's focus in 2012. Whether it is within
the organisation, on-farm or financially, it will be
the issue at hand.
The organisation is in the process of launching a
line of communication with its growers and
members. On-ground activities, such as field days,
grower walks and meetings of members will be a
Following the Onions Australia Industry Advisory
Committee's regular meeting in Melbourne in
February, it was reiterated that industry needs to
be looking to the long-term future.
Recently appointed OA chairperson Andrew Moon
has decided the focus for his two-year term will be
ensuring the industry has a definite sustainable
focus. He is determined to engage with members.
This will include building on the centralisation of
onion industry services, such as the holding of
minor-use permits by the association.
This means growers have a one-stop shop at the
organisation's national head office at Mount
Gambier. Growers will be able to keep updated
about chemical permits and speak directly to the
office which coordinates and oversees them.
There will also be a concerted push to maintain
regular communications with growers, keeping
them informed of relevant industry initiatives and
new on-farm technology.
Growers are also being encouraged to take a
hands-on role. Succession planning and long-term
sustainability have become popular catch-phrases --
and Onions Australia is not immune to those issues.
Given Australia's ageing population, it seems
younger people appear extremely reluctant to step
up to the plate when it comes to volunteering their
time. It is understandable in these busy days that
people find themselves stretched between work
and family, but when they become involved, as
often occurs on a family farm, then it becomes
imperative that some sacrifices are made to
ensure the longevity of the industry.
Onions Australia has a dedicated executive
committee committed to the future of the industry.
Many OA executive members are not first
generation farmers, they have followed their
parents onto the farm and now sit at the head of
It is those people who OA hopes will take over
from their parents and join the executive.
Kevin and Yvonne Smith say marketing is a major challenge and
growers must be prepared to adapt to them.
Bejo, a name that stands for quality
Bejo Seeds Pty Ltd • 460 Hall Road • Skye • Victoria 3977 • Tel: 03 9782 2811 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Bt different times
Jn different places
Open Days 2012
Thursday 19th and Friday 20th April
Pay us a vist at our trials farm - 460 Hall Road, Skye, Victoria 3977
We have a diverse range of outdoor varieties on display, with a focus this year on added
value. Bejo advisors will be on hand to keep you updated, and there will also be visitors from
interstate and New Zealand to share knowledge and information with.
Please contact our office, or your local representative for more details.
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