All week long, a team of enthusiastic backpackers led by Queensland contractor Alex Zoch have been busy planting 30,000 citrus trees by hand on about 45 to 50 hectares at Moree in northern NSW. The latest plot of valencia oranges will make up some 230,000 trees across the Estens aggregation where fruit is supplied to Grove Juice.
"We are switching cotton country to citrus country as it's really alluvial soils that are good for citrus and the return per megalitre is significantly higher," grower Dick Estens said. Citrus trees are ordered three years in advance with these from Gary Eyles' western Sydney nursery. Fruit will be removed from the new plantation for the next two summers, there will be a small return by the third year but it will take eight years for the trees to reach full production.
"You've got to be looking 10 years in front of you when making these decisions...you are a decade older when you get them," Mr Estens told canberratimes.com.au. The family will plant another 50 hectares in October.