SURVEY OF SUB-TROPICAL FRUIT GROWN BY SOCIETY MEMBERS
Presented by Frank Prinz
The results of the survey of sub-tropical fruits grown in our region have now been published on our website, and congratulations are due to the people involved in this project.
This survey was conducted in 2001 to obtain an insight into the types of tropical and sub-tropical fruit varieties grown by members of the Society. The objective was to measure the success rate of growing these varieties to the fruiting stage in the local conditions.
The survey took into account variables such as general locality, where the samples are grown, the age, size and fruitfulness of the plants and if grown in the open or in a protected environment.
The content of this survey is of a broad general nature and the following points should be remembered when looking at the results –
Information on the location of plants is not specific e.g. it does not take into
account the microclimate where the plant is growing.
No reference is made as to whether plants are grafted specimens or grown from
seed, and no specific cultivars are indicated.
There is no information to indicate the skill or experience of the person growing
Not all the requested information is complete, for example many respondents did
not indicate if the plant was growing in the open or under cover.
It should be noted that no assumptions were made for missing information, the
columns were simply left blank.
All information supplied has been accepted in good faith and treated as correct
without further validation.
The numbers of samples for some of the varieties are probably too small to form
Despite these apparent limitations, I believe some very useful information can be gleaned from the results.
Of the 324 plants detailed in this survey, 24 have died, only 4 of these died from frost damage.
The fact that many of the plants were grown across all the listed zones (Plains, Foothills, Hills etc) might indicate that they can stand up to our conditions much better than is generally thought.
The varieties most likely to fruit successfully appear to be Feijoa, Guava, Persimmon, White Sapote, Mulberry, Avocado, Tamarillo, Macadamia and Pomegranate.
These varieties were almost exclusively grown in ground, and in the open.
None of the listed specimens of Jakfruit, Star Apple and Wax Jambu appear old enough to bear fruit.
Jaboticaba has examples aged from 1 to 9 years, grown both in shade and in open, with only 1 known fruiting result so far.
Longan is represented by 5 plants of bearing age. Of these, 3 are listed as growing in the open, and these have all fruited. The remaining 2 shade-grown plants have failed to produce fruit. Similarly, a 10 year old Cherimoya grown under shade has not fruited, whereas a 3 year old plant grown in the open has fruited.
Of the 4 Custard Apples listed, 2 have fruited, both at a very modest size and age, unfortunately there is no indication if grown in the open or protected.
One of the surprises of the survey was probably the Mango. A total of 13 plants are listed, aged 2 to 9 years. Of these, 8 are 3 years old and over, and 6 have fruited. You can definitely grow and fruit Mangoes in sunny South Australia.
If you are interested in growing the rarer varieties, there are several ways to obtain them. Specialist Nurseries in Queensland and NSW (and even overseas) will provide them via mail order, and some local Nurseries will stock some of them at different times.
You can access the Web Pages of several of these businesses through the “Links” on our society's own Web Page at www.rarefruit-sa.org.au
Many will also become available through the trading table at our meetings. These plants are generally very good value for money, and remember that the person you are buying from has probably grown that variety in our local conditions, so you may get sound first-hand advice with your purchase. Of course, if you are patient enough you can go to the market and buy some of these fruit, and after you have enjoyed eating them you plant the seeds.
The overall message that comes through in all this is that if you wish to try growing any of these fruit, don’t be put off by the “experts” who tell you that our climate is unsuitable.
Microclimates can be created by providing shelter from wind and excessive sunshine, misting and mulching to increase humidity. Plants in the ground can be planted by north facing buildings, walls or fences etc. See November newsletter “Winter Survival and Spring Recovery in Subtropicals” for more ideas.
Container grown plants can be moved indoors or out according prevailing weather conditions. You don’t need a glasshouse or even a shade-house, although these might help to establish young plants.
For information on growing these plants, go to your local library, or use the links on our Web Site to access some of the incredible amount of information available on the internet.
Or better still, ask some of the members of our Society who have grown these plants. Most people will be happy to share their experiences.
It would be interesting to follow up on this survey, to check on survival rates, and if any plants listed as not fruiting have subsequently borne fruit. Or perhaps it would be better still to repeat the survey, with slightly more specific information, because I am sure there are many plants growing that have not been included.