A South Australian date grower is reviving a special date palm variety after striking a deal with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It will revive a century-long campaign to expand the local deglet nour date industry.
Dave Reilly, who works out of Riverland, is a pioneer of the Australian date industry, and has spent more than two decades trialling different varieties for this country's conditions, alongside his wife Anita at their Gurra Downs property.
He focuses on the Algerian-grown deglet nour variety, as it stands up to the test of time and storage abilities.
"Flavour is the utmost. It's a harder, dry date that you can put in your saddle bag and roam across the desert with," Reilly told abc.net.au.
Today, about half of America's date industry is made up of deglet nours, while the only remaining palms in Australia are too old to multiply via offshoot.
"[The date industry is] underrepresented in Australia," Reilly said. "It's a major food commodity internationally, something like 8 million metric tons of fruit grown every year. In Australia, we're such a small percentage of the [global] contribution, I don't think we even get mentioned in the international statistics."
But the Riverland date farmer has big hopes for the growth of the industry, as varieties like the deglet nour are trialled in Australian conditions, with the aim of taking advantage of the nation's counter-seasonality to the rest of the world.
Photo source: Dreamstime.com