Dragonfruit new cash crop
By Lucie Bell
Updated 9 hours 38 minutes ago
PHOTO: Young mango trees planted beside the entrance to Calypso Plantation in Carnarvon (Lucie Bell)
When it comes to growing mangoes, West Australian Eddie Smith says he's made every mistake in the book.
His approach to giving anything a go, has led the grower to diversify this season with two new crops: passionfruit and dragonfruit.
However, water security remains a real concern for all Carnarvon growers, most of whom are currently on 80 per cent of their water allocation.
Deciding just what to plant and what to pull out this season has been playing a lot on Mr Smith's mind.
"It's an absolute gamble right now," he said.
"We're counting on getting some winter rain to help carry us through, because we don't have enough water for what we've got.
"I can't keep watering both the older mango trees and the new trees, so I've bitten the bullet and we're letting some of the older trees go."
Two flows in the Gascoyne River earlier this year boosted growers' water allocations but the future remains uncertain.
Eddie says if he had the last 20 per cent of his water allocation, he'd be would have meant he could keep his older trees.
"Right now is when you really need to look after the trees because they're growing the branches to support next year's crop.
"It's like growing mangoes, I've made every mistake known to man... dragonfruit is probably going to go through the same process."
Eddie Smith, Carnarvon mango grower
"They're supposed to be building up their carbohydrate reserves for the new fruit, so normally at this time of year we're belting the water into them."
Calypso Plantations deals predominantly in mangoes but with a tough last season under his belt, Eddie thinks it's time to spread the risk and try something different.
"We did some test runs with dragonfruit and were averaging $5-$6 per fruit, which isn't bad.
"We got roughly 10 to 12 fruit per plant when we picked, but if you do too much we'll flood the market."
After an initial hiccup planting his dragonfruit in pots upside down, Eddie is now marking his 150 saplings to ensure he has them the right way up.
"It's like growing mangoes, I've made every mistake known to man and I'm inventing them now.
"Dragonfruit is probably going to go through the same process."
Eddie also plans to trial passionfruit this season.