A South Australian date grower is reviving a special date palm variety on home soil after placing a deal with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), bringing back a century-long campaign to expand the local deglet nour date industry.
- An exchange program between the USDA and a Riverland date grower is bringing recent varieties to Australia
- The deglet nour is one variety status to search out SA roots after a long history with the outback and River Murray space
- Dave Reilly says the date industry is below-represented in Australia nevertheless he is eager to behold it develop
Riverland-based Dave Reilly is a pioneer of the Australian date industry, and has spent extra than two decades trialling assorted varieties for this nation’s situations, alongside his partner Anita at their Gurra Downs property.
He labelled the Algerian-grown variety, deglet nour, as a ‘star-performing’ date, which stands up to the take a look at of time and storage abilities.
In 1912, then SA Premier Archibald Peake recognised the fruit’s potential and attempted to negotiate the purchase of 1,000 offshoots whereas in England.
However the large demand for the plant and looming Great War meant his narrate was unsuccessful.
“In those same years, the Americans were in Algeria procuring for up almost every last deglet nour offshoot they may,” Mr Reilly said.
Date demand growing
Today, about half of America’s date industry is made up of deglet nours, whereas the greatest remaining palms in Australia are too stale to multiply via offshoot.
“[The date industry is] below represented in Australia,” Mr Reilly said.
“It be a major meals commodity internationally, one thing savor 8 million metric a total bunch fruit grown every year.
“In Australia, we’re such a small percentage of the [global] contribution, I earn now not assume we even regain mentioned in the international statistics.”
However the Riverland date farmer has tall hopes for the expansion of the industry, as varieties savor the deglet nour are trialled in Australian situations, with the aim of taking advantage of the nation’s counter-seasonality to the remainder of the area.
“There may be relatively a lot of demand for our product domestically which is where we’d retract to stay, nevertheless the export markets are pulling us heavenly firmly in another direction.
“As Australia’s population keeps growing, we sustain increasing date demand and we have a long way to paddle yet earlier than we satisfy demand.”
Overseas date swap
When the alternative arose for Mr Reilly to enter a date cultivar exchange program with the USDA alongside a UK partner, he jumped at the alternative.
By the exchange, he has secured 10 recent varieties from the USDA collection, taking Australia’s total collection up to about 50 imported cultivars.
“[There’s] all varieties of kinds from all varieties of international locations,” Mr Reilly said.
“[There’s] Iraq, Morocco, UAE, Saudi, Egyptian varieties — there is a lot of assorted material we have now imported.
“Now we have now bought to learn to develop them. Every date palm variety has its have peculiarities and a few of them take relatively a bit to learn develop.”
The deglet nour plants are anticipated to enter the ground in 2022 and Mr Reilly is working with an outback SA grower to reach back the high-performing variety to its interior Australian roots.
“We will start there and plant some in the Riverland and behold where the handiest place in the nation to develop them [is],” he said.
“We behold at ourselves as an inter-generational industry.
“What we start, we may now not always be able to complete … nevertheless it indubitably’s a very thrilling future [for the industry].”