NORTH Queensland’s Achacha experiment began when plantation manager Bruce Hill was in Bolivia with a Bolivian friend who kept praising this almost unknown fruit grown in low lying areas of that country.
Bruce told the North Queensland Register he was initially suspect of his friend’s praise as there was not even a referral to the fruit on the internet.
“I thought, how can any fruit unknown to the international community be of any significance? But after being given some to try I was so surprised,” Mr Hill said. He then made up his mind to import the seeds and grow the fruit commercially in Australia
But the Bolivian government treated such crops as something akin to national heritage and it took several years going through that countries bureaucracy to finally be given a license to grow the fruit commercially outside of Bolivia.
It has result is so far 16,000 bearing trees at the Palm Creek Achacha Plantation 30km south of Townsville. This is some sort of achievement considering that in Bolivia there are only an estimated 6000 trees growing in small holdings of 100-200 trees.
The Achacha are grown in a chemical free environment and Bruce hopes the orchard will gain bio-dynamic certification this coming year.
The trees are fertilised with purely organic material such as kelp, boiled and fermented casuarina needles and a fermented mixture containing cow manure. Some of it is sprayed onto the tress and some applied via fertigation.
He said he expected the crop this year to be in excess of 200 tonnes and when you consider that the trees mature around 40 years of age, this plantation has a lot more production increase to come.
One of the big plusses with the marketing of Achacha is that after ripening, the fruit can remain on the tree for up to three months and still be able to be picked, packed and marketed as the market demands The ideal time for picking is between 1-2 months after ripening. It also has a very long shelf life. Achacha should not be refrigerated at this causes discoloration of the skin.
Hope everyone has had the chance to try these gorgeous fruit.
I am a big fan of this delicious fruit. The Woodford IGA sold them a couple of years ago (January from memory), but I have not seen them anywhere since. I managed to grow a few from seed - but only 2 seedlings survived and neither have grown much. I must try a bit harder to encourage growth.
They're good aren't they.
I've had two or three seed grown trees but all have died. Hard to keep alive.
Have any of our members been successful in growing these trees in the sub-tropics?
It appears to have abundant fruit when it matures, I would like to know if it can be kept a smaller size for backyards.