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19 Outlook Drive
Esk Qld 4312
Telephone 07 5424 1975
We would be interested in establishing contact with anyone who is interested in the cultivation of taro. This crop originates from Sri Lanka and there are accounts of it having been grown in the Mackay area in north Queensland in the 1890s. We became interested in taro cultivation because it has been the only crop we have been able to grow at our two and a half hectare block near Esk, in south-east Queensland.
We are located on a North-South slope on the side of Blanks Mountain and are surrounded by a wild life reserve. Soil texture and drainage are apparently satisfactory and we have underground water for irrigation. However, the water quality has restricted the crops we can grow because of its high salt content. Taro is apparently able to tolerate salty irrigation water.
Being so close to the wildlife reserve, we have the advantage of constant supplies of wallaby droppings delivered to our property by the producers. We have also found that taro is one of the few plants that hares will not eat.
Colocasia spp are apparently adapted to grow from the tip of Cape York in Far North Queensland to coastal Kempsey in New South Wales, under the right conditions. The tubers are harvested in autumn, otherwise plants become dormant during winter in south-east Queensland. New taro setts need to be established every four years to be productive, although there are taro plants in a garden in Esk which have not been re-established since 1971.
To establish the taro setts on our site, we removed the top soil and dug trenches in the clay subsoil, 30 cm wide, 25 cm deep and 150 cm apart. Setts were planted after rain.
The taro planting material used by us was acquired from a number of commercial markets. We chose Colocasia antiquorum fontanesii, also known as Bun-long, the Polynesian potato or the 'Taro that doesn't flower' because this material was the most sought after in those markets.
Taro connoisseurs when describing which taro to purchase, cook and eat, look for plants with a dark mauve to purple/black spot on the Piko and purplish colour at the top of the petiole, just below the leaf base.
Although Colocasia esculenta can produce seed, as the alternative name suggests, we need to propagate Colocasia antiquorum fontanesii from suckers, corms, eyes on the corm and from the hull, the crown of the corm.
There is no evidence of Colocasia antiquorum fontanesii having flowered in this environment; similar observations have been recounted from experience at Mackay dating from late last century.
There is a wide range of taro available in commercial markets in Brisbane and the different types can vary in their taste when cooked. There are also some taro types with low oxalic acid, which are used for green vegetables around the Pacific Rim.
There appears to be some confusion in the literature with respect to the species and cultivars within the genus Colocasia.
Any claims made by authors in the Australian New Crops Newsletter are presented by the Editors in good faith. Readers would be wise to critically examine the circumstances associated with any claims to determine the applicability of such claims to their specific set of circumstances. This material can be reproduced, with the provision that the source and the author (or editors, if applicable) are acknowledged and the use is for information or educational purposes. Contact with the original author is probably wise since the material may require updating or amendment if used in other publications. Material sourced from the Australian New Crops Newsletter cannot be used out of context or for commercial purposes not related to its original purpose in the newsletter
Contact: Dr Rob Fletcher, School of Land and Food, The University of Queensland Gatton College, 4345; Telephone: 07 5460 1311 or 07 5460 1301; Facsimile: 07 5460 1112; International facsimile: 61 7 5460 1112; Email:email@example.com
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originally created by:GK; latest update 6 June 1999 by: RF