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The nashi fruit industry has only become established in Australia during the past ten years with most plantings being made in the past six years. Victoria is the major producer but plantings have now been made in all Australian states. The early 1990s saw the crash of the nashi fruit industry on the NSW north coast.
Most plantings of nashi fruit on the NSW north coast were in the Halfway Creek area approximately 50 km north of Coffs Harbour. In all, about 120 000 trees were planted by a local development company which subdivided the land and sold the farms, mostly to city-based clients. Purchasers were charged a management fee for farm maintenance and for harvesting, packing and marketing fruit.
The nashi trees were planted on duplex soils of low fertility and low water-holding capacity. Surface soils were shallow, sandy and prone to erosion and the subsoil was a poorly drained clay. Irrigation was necessary because of the poor water retention of the soil and this required the construction of major storage facilities.
Nashi fruit have a chill requirement for flowering and this was marginal in the Halfway Creek area. Difficulties were experienced in obtaining export-grade blemish-free fruit as the sub-tropical conditions favoured pests, diseases and blemish problems. In addition, flying foxes and birds caused damage to fruit unless orchards were netted.
The problems arising from the poor soils, unsuitable climatic conditions, and serious pest and quality problems led to the development company concluding in 1990 that production of nashi fruit might not be economical in the area. They subsequently withdrew their management services.
The present position is that there is only one grower left in the area. According to District Horticulturist David Stevenson, serious problems still exist with respect to production of marketable fruit.
While potential clients of new developments must conduct their own investigations before investment, a report by Daryl Firth* of NSW Agriculture, Alstonville has listed the following suggestions aimed at preventing similar commercial failures in the future:
large-scale horticultural development projects in areas where crop adaptation has not clearly been proven should be preceded by trial plantings made well before commercial plantings are commenced.
all horticultural projects which solicit investment funds from the public should be required to state potential limitations to success on the basis of existing knowledge.
where adaptation of a crop to an area has not been commercially demonstrated the developer should be required to provide documentary evidence of appropriate experimental work or indicate in the prospectus that the crop has not been tested and that there is an unknown risk of failure.
any project involving public investment through a document providing information to purchasers should be covered by the law which relates to the issuing of a prospectus.
(*D.J. Firth (1992) The collapse of the nashi fruit industry on the NSW north coast. Plant Industries Report 10, New South Wales Agriculture.)
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