During April and May Kaye and I travelled up to Tully on two occasions. The first was the weekend of 21st 22nd (after a couple of false starts due to family commitments and flooding on the Bruce Highway) to attend the Cassowary Coast Branch meeting to be held at Bob and Jill Brighton’s home in Tully.
We arrived in Tully on Friday night, booking into the Tully Motel. On Saturday we decided to do a bit of sightseeing so we headed north to check out a tropical fruit winery called Murdering Point Winery. I had seen an add in a brochure about port made from chocolate sapote. We arrived a little after 10 am, as we talked to the proprietor we were invited to taste a selection the 6 white 3 red/rose 3 ports and 2 cream liqueurs all made from tropical fruits some of the more interesting ones were lychee mango Davidson plum and of course the black sapote. The red emperor sweet (Davidson plum) was our pick and we left with a carton in hand. The amount of fruit that is required to make a batch of wine is quite staggering , (a minimum of 10 tonnes)The fruit is mainly local but some come from northern New South Wales If you are passing through or in the area and enjoy the odd glass I would strongly recommend a visit.
The meeting was held on Sunday and was attended by about 20 members. After the formalities Bob conducted a walk around his garden. His side veranda and two greenhouses were full with about a 1000 young trees to replace the trees on his orchard lost in Yasi. As we proceeded around the garden there was 6 or 8 different fruit trees along the side fence and a granadilla which had completely covered a trellis about 1.5m (4’) high and about 2m (6’) square, constructed of 4 star pickets and a piece of reinforcing mesh, there was a lot of fruit ranging from flowers to mature fruit hanging under the canopy none of which had been hand pollinated (it appears that the native bees are at work).
The next thing of note was the 15 metre long hedge of gramichamma trees along the back fence; this provides privacy, a windbreak and a lot of fruit. The hedge sustained very little damage during Yasi and appears to have protected other trees in the garden from the brunt of the wind. After cyclone Larry Bob started trying to cyclone proof his farm and garden, some of the methods he tried are heavy pruning before the cyclone season to reduce the size of the tree and canopy. This worked for some trees but not for others. The most ingenious method was planting a small tree about 600mm (2’) on either side of the mother tree and approach grafting the side branches of the mother tree onto the leaders of the smaller trees, creating a tree with 3 root systems. By clever pruning Bob was able to train the tree to increase its stability during a cyclone. After Yasi not only did the tree survive a category 5 cyclone but Bob was picking rambutans 3weeks later. A single rooted rambutan tree next to it was blown out of the ground and jackfruit trees nearby were snapped off just above ground level. Bob plans to implement this method along with the Tatura trellising system into his orchard over the next couple of years.
I was invited to represent the RFA on Saturday 12th May for Tatura trellising field day at Peter Selleras farm at El Arish The guest speaker was Bas Van den Ende, scientist and designer of this amazing intense cropping system. It was originally designed for apple and pear growers and then adapted to stone fruit in Victoria. Through trial and error Peter and Alison have adapted the system to suit tropical fruit trees.
Peter’s article in the 2012 Rare Fruit Review was very interesting, but to visit his orchard and see trees laden with fruit and powering ahead just 15 months after a category 5 cyclone was truly inspiring to say the least. The system comprises a “v” shaped trellis’ anchored at both ends and wires run between the support posts at about 600mm (2’) spacings then the trees are trained and pruned onto the wire. The trees are supported by the trellis exposing the canopy on the inside of the trellis to maxim sunlight whilst shading the fruit on the outside of the trellis. The whole design allows ease of pruning more effective use of pest controls and quicker more efficient harvesting of the fruit. Peter had 460 trees on Tatura Trellises before cyclone Yasi and did not lose a single tree during the blow, he later lost 2 trees to wet feet and several trees were badly sunburnt due to lack of foliage but these are well on the way to recovering.
Peter now has 2 rows of soursops 3 rows of Malay apples and several mixed rows including Abiu and star apples. The farm has just sent a good crop of abiu and star apples to market and is currently picking soursops twice a week. The trial trellis is 50 metres long and 4 metres wide, there are about forty fruit trees planted here with 21 different varieties; some of these include hog plum, cocoa, rollinia yellow sapote, lychee, figs, finger lime, jaboticaba, pitomba, abiu, arasa boy and kwai muck; this row is called the fruit salad row and is where each type of tree is assessed to see if it can be adapted to the trellis system. Most of the trees had fruit or flowers on them. The cassowary coast branch is about to start work on a small scale trellis system for the Faluga State primary School.
This system is truly the way of the future for both backyard and commercial growers alike. I would recommend this system to anyone trying to protect their trees against severe weather events, or as a way of putting a lot of different trees into a small area.
The information about this system is only available to RFA members and further details can be obtained from Bas van den Ende or Alison Selleras.
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