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AU farmer grows citrus, avocados and pistachios in Mallee

On three blocks of land in Victoria’s marginal Mallee region, two generations of the Chislett family work side-by-side in a multifaceted operation that ties citrus, avocado and pistachio production with an on-farm nursery selling rootstock and trees to farmers across Australia.

And despite there being a whopping 600,000 trees in the nursery, and as much as 11,000 tonnes of produce leaving the farm each year destined for growing domestic and international markets, they say they’re certainly not done yet, with plans well advanced to increase production.

Chislett Farms is operated by Greg and Susan Chislett, and their sons Jonathan and Brenton, where the Murray and Wakool rivers converge at Kenley and additional land at nearby Narrung.

Jonathan said while the Mallee didn’t offer as favourable conditions for avocado production as Queensland they performed well. The Pistachios, on the other hand are expected to take 5-7 years to bear fruit.

Tree Believer
About 80 per cent of trees in the nursery are citrus, with the remainder an even split between avocado and pistachio.

Jonathan said he was buoyed by citrus prices, which had picked up in recent years, while avocado returns “have been pretty good for a while now”. Navel oranges are currently fetching about $600-$700 a tonne, mandarins $1000 a tonne and avocado $5500 a tonne. Jonathan said prices for pistachios may have peaked but were about $10-$12/kg or $10,000-$12,000 a tonne.

Looking ahead, Jonathan said the business would continue to expand and improve with new technologies and techniques. Greg and Susan have visited Spain, the US, South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Israel and Egypt in recent years to keep up with the latest on varieties, irrigation, fertigation and other farming practices.

“I think we’ve got another 150ha of plantings planned for the next three or four years,” Jonathan said.

Read more at weeklytimesnow.com.au

Publication date: 8/30/2017


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