South Australian David Arnold first planted the niche orchard in the Riverland in 2011 and now has more than feijoa 300 trees on the G.M. Arnold and Son’s Waikerie property. Now he is winding up the harvest season for the little-known fruit loved by New Zealanders, Hongkongers and increasingly: Australians.
The feijoas, look like mini avocados but have a sweet flavour reminiscent of guava crossed with pineapple and quince. They have become a sound commercial crop among other orchards bearing exotic fruits such as Buddha’s Hands, pomelo, pomegranate and quince.
“The feijoas have about a six week harvest and we finished picking about a week ago,” family business manager Arnold said. “In the last couple of years we’ve finally found our stride with them and we’ve got the crop going well along with enough markets to get them out quickly, otherwise you need to get them into the cool room straight away to chill them.”
Last year much of the crop was exported to Hong Kong but Arnold said this year there was strong demand in Australia including at Coles supermarkets – and the fruit sold particularly well in areas with more New Zealanders.
The orchard was first planted as a fill crop on the Riverland property with the help of a State Government Riverland Futures Fund grant, as an alternative to its navel oranges, Valencia oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons.
Arnold said different pruning, nutrition and watering trials on the property had seen the feijoa crop size improve and grow into a more commercially profitable proposition for the business over the past few years.