Visiting Tropical Fruit World

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The tour was conducted by the now retired owner Bob Brinsmead. The farm covers 170 acres.

Sheryl How did you get into this Bob?

Bob I had some farming background and this use to be the experimental farm and I use to come out here as a boy so I was familiar with it then they moved the Station so when it came on the market, I bought it

 Sheryl What were you growing beforehand?

Bob Sugarcane, bananas and pineapples. 

Sheryl How much water do you put on? 

Bob We rely heavily on rainfall – I don’t think we are even irrigating. We tend to irrigate mostly young trees.

Abiu  (Pouteria caimito) We’d have about 80 of these but not many bearing. We have seedlings which are doing just as well as the grafted.

Acerola  (Malpighia glabra) If you prune you miss a year’s crop – they won’t bear fruit on young wood.

Ambarilla (Hog Plum) I’ve selected out 3 that have a better flavoured fruit from the Malcases. They call them the Poor Mans Mango. The best way of processing them is that if you use them when they’re green and you grate them up, you can use it in a salad. Willie The leaves are also nice for cooking and to use in a raw salad. You can also pickle the young fruit.

Araca  (Eugenia stipitate) Very sour like a big soft guava but they make a beautiful juice. Got them from a chap up at Mossman. They bear quite heavily.

Avocadoes  Sheryl What type of fertiliser do you give your Avocados? Bob Cracker Dust and mainly foliar fertiliser – liquid Nitrophoska twice a year. A really nice Avocado to eat is Reed. Peter Do you inject your Avocadoes every year? Bob We tend to spray with Phosphorous Acid but we have been injecting them this year. The Linda variety is very large and doesn’t grow brown when you cut it.

Black Sapote  I have 3 varieties. I like the Mossman the best, the big flat one. They’re a very vigorous tree, we don’t fertilize or irrigate them but we do spray to keep the black soot off.  Joe  We have one that’s a rusty colour inside. Sheryl  Sell the tree under PBR and make yourself lots of money!

Canistel It’s very sweet. This group of fruit along with the Mammy Sapote tastes a bit like pumpkin. You can eat the skin of this fruit. You can put this in a pie crust with a bit of cream and it reminds me of an American Pumpkin Pie. They’re a bit dry if they’re not fully ripe.

Ceylon Hill Cherry   It’s a very beautiful shrub

Citrus  I got these bare-rooted from Fitzroy Nursery in Rockhampton. You would never grow Citrus in this area commercially. You would never get colour in this climate that you would get in a dry Mediterranean climate. You would never compete with a Californian type climate. Gayndah is the closest type of climate as well as South Australia. California will grow a cleaner more coloured fruit. 

Sheryl  So you need the water in winter as opposed to summer?

Bob Too much moisture in the air around summer but the Citrus have been so popular with some of our Asian visitors that we’ve just grown a big patch of Mandarins so they can just go and eat them. 

Sheryl  The Californian Coast gets very high moisture in the air when the cool air meets with the warm current and the whole coast mists.

Feijoas  Prefer a colder climate

Green Sapote  Just mash into a creamy consistency and have with ice-cream. It’s the best of all. Some seedling trees are OK but others are not.

Guavas  Prune them and open them out and you’ll have better fruit. I don’t market any of them but we let the tourists come in and eat what they like.

Ketembila  Slightly astringent but makes a beautiful jam, round purple fruit.

Kwai Muk  (Artocarpus lakoocha) Related to the Jackfruit but it’s never fruited.  George There’s one in the Botanic Gardens

Langsat  We only had one survive on the property and as they take about 15 years to fruit but it may be too cold here for it to fruit.

Lucmo  Very slow growing – very much like the Canistel

Lychee  Netted for protection against birds.  Sheryl Ever had hail here? I notice there’s no gaps for hail to fall down. Bob  We had to get a new net! There’s was so much hail that it dropped right down to the ground. Urea twice a year and Nitrophoska now.

Mabolo  (Diospyros discolour) Velvet Apple Fruit has dark brown velvet skin, creamy flesh and sweet flavour.  It’s now a seedling as the graft died.

Malay Apple ( Sy. malacances) In the same family as a Lillypilly, Wax Jambu, Water Cherry, Malay Apple and well worth growing. Another one which is really beautiful is the Giant Lau Lau from New Guinea

Mamey Sapote Sheryl  How do you know when it’s ripe? Bob  You scratch the base of the fruit and they should be going brown but if they’re still green then leave them alone. There are 2 varieties Pontin and Gray. There’s also the Magana which is a big one and it has a courser flavour – they’re great in milk shakes and this variety has a pointy end. The round one is Pontin. In Spanish it’s the Mother.

Mammea Americana  It was a male/female but we lost the male. We had a late cold snap in October and itwiped out the new growth. George There’s suppose to be bi-sexual ones as well. Sheryl  They were fruiting up at Maroochy.

Mangoes  The whole district has had a poor crop this year. I feel like putting a chainsaw into them. What I think I’ll do is inject them with round-up but not enough to kill the tree so it keeps it very sparse and let the Pitaya run all over it. We’ve tried 50 varieties of Indian Mangoes but none of them do any good here.

Matisia  (Matisia cordata They’re a bit like a Black Sapote but sweeter. They’re just surviving here as they’re more tropical.

Miracle Fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) Grow in semi-shade 

Monkey Pot  (Lecythis pisonis Has tasty large nuts

Olive It only had 4 olives on it!

Pawpaw  They’re looking a bit unhealthy but unless you keep up with a bit of fungicide on  them this can happen and we don’t like to spray. They get the marks on the skin at the end of the season.

Persimmon   You need a cover over them to stop the birds from getting at them.

Pitaya We have just fertilised and watered them recently and they’ve just gone through a  dry spell – 2 or 3 weeks when they were stressed. Besides the Cracker Dust and  Fowl Manure we give them an NPK dressing every 6 weeks so after the water and  fertiliser, these will really start to bud everywhere in 2-3 weeks. They need a heavy structure to support them. Large upright posts and a post-rail on top and perhaps put in 2 rows a metre apart so they can go over each side. When they get too large, just go through with a cane knife and hack them off. We’re going to plant more yellows.

Sheryl One of our members John Picone has imported different varieties from  Vietnam.

Bob Chili is probably the biggest grower, Columbia and Israel where they  grow them under solarweave because it’s too hot.

Pitomba Haven’t done real well yet – very nice tasting like an apricot – but they take years to  fruit well.

George If you had it in a more sheltered spot it would grow a bit better.

Poshte Tastes like a red Custard Apple

Quirsaros Jeff  I get a lot of flowers but no fruit

Sapodilla   Very slow growing and need a lot of nitrogenous fertiliser and they will bear heavily  when they get old – it’s is one of the highest sugar content fruits and belongs to the  family Sapotecea.

Soursop  (Annona muricta) We haven’t had much luck with grafted ones. The Puerto Rican one is doing OK but Unlike Custard Apples it has to be ripe whilst still on the tree.  You can’t pick it green so it’s not ideal for marketing as it doesn’t have a long shelf life but we sell a lot here. It can go a bit jelly inside when it’s too ripe. I like a squeeze of lemon over them. There’s quite a variation among them.

Sheryl How do you tell the difference?

Bob     They have a different skin. The smoother skin one is mucosa, the bareba is a white flesh. Most of these will bear fruit in the autumn but a few will hang through to winter but if you try and eat this fruit at the end of winter, they taste yucky – no  flavour – but once the sap starts flowing, then the taste comes back.

Star Apple  are in the same family as Abiu. You don’t get a lot out of them and if you don’t eat near the skin, it’s quite pleasant. Don’t eat them too green or too ripe. Don’t grow the ungrafted varieties as the crop is unreliable.

Joe What particular variety? Peter  How do you get them to fruit – mine flower but no fruit?

Bob  I had one like that and I got rid of it and put in another variety.  Sheryl Do they need cross-pollination with another? Bob It may help.

Star Gooseberry Very sour but if you cook them up in brown sugar and boil and boil till they turn red they’re nice. Willie Chica acida formerly known as Philanthus acidus

Wax Jambu Very beautiful tree with lovely red fruit

Yellow Mangosteen Can be grown from seed. Good flavour.

Fertiliser – We use Cracker Dust It’s a blue metal and we mix this with fowl dung (about 3:1) but you can change it as there’s no rules but it has a number of advantages. There was an ABC programme on it. There are a lot of minerals in it and its pH is about 9 so it’s nearly as good as putting lime on the ground so you mineralise your ground. 

Sheryl What’s the difference between Cracker Dust and Blue Metal?

Bob Fineness. Blue Metal is too course. I’ve found that just by putting it around trees, that the roots come up into it and it’s very inexpensive. You can use it instead of top soil because it’s easier to spread and the grass will green up where you’ve put it – put it on at anytime of the year.

Down at the bottom section there’s a sign “Lava Tree” so guess who fell for that one!!! 

Compiled by Sheryl Backhouse