Home' Grower : September 2013 Contents 4
The South Australian Grower -- September 2013
By STEPHANIE GROPLER
STRONG demand in
export markets and a
drop in the Australian
dollar has the citrus industry
feeling upbeat and positive for
the first time in a very long while.
Citrus Australia chief executive
officer Judith Damiani said
growers were exactly where they
needed to be, with the market
demanding their fruit.
"It hasn't happened for a long
time, in fact I can't remember
this ever happening, where we
have had not just domestic
people looking for navel oranges
but importers looking for
Australian navel oranges," she
"We have packers in Sunraysia
that are going into other regions
trying to look for late navels.
"I am just so happy for the
growers, it is not a fantastic year
but what I am saying is it is
better than what they have had
for a long time, which certainly
moves it in the right direction."
Ms Damiani said a few
important factors had been
favourable for citrus growers this
"First is the drop in the dollar,
second is that we have had very
strong export demand, and
thirdly, we have had a bit of a
lighter crop in some regions,"
"Sunraysia has been really
exporting a lot but very light
with their late-season navels, so a
"South Australia actually have
quite a good crop -- a bigger crop
than last year for late navels -- so
I am expecting them to do quite
Ms Damiani said growers
were doing well to meet market
"There has been a lot of
reworking so people are changing
varieties, and not just in the
Riverland, in all the regions," she
"They are really looking hard
at the varieties they have got and
probably moving a little bit more
"They are also looking at the
quality of the fruit so there are
quality navels for export."
Citrus Australia South
Australian Regional Committee
chairman Con Poulos said new
exporting markets in Asia were
"Three years ago, Australia did
two containers into China. Last
year, it did 400 and this year I
don't know yet but I'd assume
it would be well over 1000
containers," Mr Poulos said.
"Years ago, the US was the
shining light for us so now Japan
has opened up more and more
and China is getting bigger every
Mr Poulos said it was
important to maintain and grow
these export markets to take
pressures off the domestic market
that has a constant price most
"The more fruit we can export
as an industry -- not just South
Australia but Australia wide -- the
demand on the domestic sort of
stays where it is," he said.
fruit that goes to export back
onto the domestic market, it
will just kill it from early in the
Mr Poulos said about 50 per
cent of Australian citrus was now
being exported, and that there
was a global push for easy peel
"It is hard -- you plant a citrus
tree, and you wait seven years to
start producing so it's not a quick
changeover," he said.
Some growers are beginning
to reap the benefits of reworking
and putting in more than just the
standard navel and valencia.
"A lot of the guys who years
ago started putting in afourers
are now getting paid," Mr Poulos
"I'm hearing prices of around
$1500 a tonne. But the bulk of
our fruit in SA and most regions
is navels, so we still need to
concentrate on creating export
markets for them.
"If these export markets keep
growing, there is probably a
good future for what we have
Mr Poulos said Australian
citrus growers had gone through
the "perfect storm" because the
drought and high Australian
dollar had made it harder for
small growers to change their
"They used all their money
to buy water and keep their
plantings alive ... so they are
either running on debt or
Growers 're-work' ground
AFTER many years of hardship
caused by the drought and then
the nation moving into a high
Australian dollar, citrus growers
could be forgiven for being
cautious on diversification.
But now, just the opposite is
happening with hundreds of
hectares across the state being
reworked and new varieties
Sunlands citrus growers Mark
and Louise Doecke are doing just
that, and are optimistic about the
"We are open to new varieties
but we are trying to make
intelligent decisions about it,"
"We still have washingtons and
valencias, a lot of late navels and
we are moving into easy peels
-- it is undeniable that the world
wants an easy peel variety."
The Doeckes have bought 10 lots
of property over 20 years and now
have 36 hectares of citrus.
"In our enterprise, 25 per cent
will be mandarins, 25pc late
navels, 40pc of washingtons and
valencias, and the balance bits
and pieces," Mark said.
The family recently planted
mandarin varieties sumos and
tardivo and soon plan to include
the tango. They expect big results.
The tango variety is an afourer,
with plant breeder rights, and is
guaranteed seedless -- something
that South Australian afourer
growers struggle with as there are
so many valencias close by.
"I figure it is cheaper to pay
the five bucks than worry about
netting," Mark said.
He said royalties and plant
breeder rights were the way of the
"Growers really need to get used
to that," he said.
"Up until now it has always been
free -- you would just go pick
which one you want," he said.
"So you pay that money but it
gets used to promote the variety,
I think that is the way it will go
from now on."
The sumo variety of mandarin is
an orange and mandarin hybrid
that was first sold in Australia
commercially last month after
being planted at Leeton in 2006
But some will recognise it as
a dekopon mandarin that comes
without plant breeder rights.
The variety has had big success
in Asian countries since the early
Citrus trade upbeat
Sunlands citrus growers Mark and Louise Doecke, pictured with
their dog Mav, planted the sumos and tardivo mandarin varieties
and soon plan to include the tango in their mix.
Some growers are beginning to reap the benefits of reworking and
putting in more than just the standard navel and valencia.
BIOSECURITY officers at Melbourne
Airport have again proved their worth
by seizing prohibited curry leaves at the
border. The leaves could have otherwise
caused an incursion of the serious citrus
pest Huanglongbing or citrus greening.
Two officers from the Department
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
discovered that passengers arriving
from India were carrying leaves and
roots from the curry tree (Murraya
koenigii), which were infested with eggs
and nymphs of the exotic insect, Asian
Since this psyllid can carry HLB,
Australia has strict import conditions for
citrus fruits and leaves and parts of the
related curry tree.
Plant Health Australia executive
director and CEO Greg Fraser said
that the officers had saved the citrus
industry and the broader community
from an expensive and potentially
On hearing of the find, Mr Fraser said
HLB was one of the most serious pests
of agriculture, and that Australia did not
"It's a bacterial infection that
ultimately kills the plant," he aid.
"Diseased trees become a reservoir
for the disease which is then carried
from tree to tree by the Asian citrus
psyllid. This was an important find."
Citrus Australia CEO Judith Damiani
was also relieved to hear that border
controls had prevented a potential
"The frontline officers have a very
important job," she said.
"HLB is a particularly nasty pest
that California is grappling with at the
moment. Australian growers don't want
the same problem. We're grateful for
the efforts to stop pests entering our
"Citrus growers need to be vigilant
as well. Early detection and reporting
of HLB would be vital in the event of
an incursion. We need people to report
Mr Fraser said the seizure was
evidence that Australia's plant
biosecurity system was effective.
"PHA works very closely with DAFF
and industry members, such as Citrus
Australia, to safeguard our crops from
exotic pests. Without such a system,
our agricultural industries would be
susceptible to pest incursions that
could cripple their production and
profitability," he said.
Curry leaves are a recognised
pathway for the Asian citrus psyllid, and
other pests, to enter the country. In this
case, two species of whitefly, including
one identified as an exotic pest, and a
hard scale, were also detected.
Details: Exotic Plant Pest Hotline
1800 084 881
Asian citrus psyllid can carry the serious citrus pest Huanglongbing.
Curry leaves infested by insect were seized at Melbourne airport
recently. Photo: David Hall, USDA Agricultural Research Service,
Border seizure wards off exotic insect pest
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