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AU: dolci Navel takes China by stormThe Dolci Navel orange was discovered in 2010 by a fruit picker picking Washington Navels on the farm of the Nardi boys (Frank, Mick and Joe) in Leeton, New South Wales. He noticed a branch with three or four pieces of fruit with brown skin so Frank Mercuri and the Nardi boys at Pacific Fresh went to take a look and found a very sweet orange, much sweeter than a normal navel.
Pacific Fresh now have 17,000 trees of Dolci Navel, in the ground, on all the owners of Pacific Fresh farms and plan to have 25,000 in two year's time. Pacific Fresh and the Nardi boys are the owners of the variety and at the moment grow it all themselves. However, the bud wood has been sent to America, where it has just been released from quarantine and will be grown there in the future.
Harvest time for the orange is July and early August and when they eventually grow in the US the harvest will be January/February.
"It’s still early days, we only packed eight pallets this season as the trees are still young," explains Frank. "Next year we will have a lot more, we hope to get 30-50 pallets and then further increase volumes each year after that."
100% of the production went to China. The Chinese buyer saw the Dolci while in Australia and wanted to give them a go.
"They did a good job of marketing them in China this season. This orange is bit different than what people are used to so it will take a bit of work, but once people try it they really like it," said Frank.
"Further down the line, the market place will determine how much we need to plant. I don't think it will be an orange which will take over all other oranges on the market, but there will be a specialised demand for it. It will be at the top end of the market and people are willing to pay more, but in the end it will depend on demand. If demand is very strong then we'll have to look at growing it in other areas but we need a bit of volume first to really test the market."
According to Frank the domestic market is also looking positive, "In 2016 we sent a pallet to one of our buyers and he sold them in no time and at a good price. People were coming back for more but they were done."
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