What are the top selling organic fruit?
In Australia the top sellers are grapes, apples, oranges and bananas. In Queensland the list is slightly different: bananas, strawberries, mandarins, avocados and mangoes.
How long does it take from planting organic fruit trees to picking?
For trees to be mature enough to bear fruit takes generally two to four years, so you have to be much more patient than with vegetables. But like a lot of things in life, patience is rewarded because the payback is higher and once established most trees live for 15 to 60 years so you create a good asset.
Avocados (grown from seedlings grafted onto established rootstock) can produce a few organic fruit in year two and generally the number of avocados per tree increases substantially each year as the tree grows until they reach their peak in about years 8 to 10. There are avocado trees on Tamborine Mountain that are over 50 years old, still producing large quantities.
Macadamias take longer than avocados before they produce nuts. I planted 25 in 2005 and am still waiting. Olives can take eight years to produce their first crop. Blueberries take about 5 years to fully mature but start getting a few fruit after one year.
Passionfruit grow on vines, like grapes, and are expensive to establish as they need posts and wires and have a remarkably short life—only 3 to 5 years. Passionfruit are very susceptible to frosts and do best in tropical and subtropical areas.
Health value of organic fruit
Mangosteen, an exotic fruit that has no relationship to mangoes, scores very highly. Plums, oranges, grapes, grapefruit and kiwi fruit also score well.
Seeds or seedlings?
Whilst you can plant organic fruit trees from their seeds, they take much longer to fruit. It is generally recommended you plant grafted seedlings or saplings that have been well established. In view of their longterm value it is well worth buying good quality seedlings. We planted one avocado from seed and it took about 9 years before it produced an avocado and even afterwards did not produce as many as a grafted seedling does in years two and three. We have successfully planted tamarillos from the seeds in the fruit but a better strategy is to plant from cuttings.
Which organic fruit are most profitable?
The organic fruit that fetch the best prices are blueberries, strawberries, pineapples, cherries, mangoes, paw paws and rock melons.
Blueberries are enticing and popular, but their downside is the labour involved in picking them and growing them is not easy. They score well on health value, and they have the advantage of taking less space than other organic fruit trees (one metre apart is sufficient). This latter factor is significant when compared to many organic fruit trees such as avocados which require four to six metres spacing between each one. Blueberries are also reported to live for up to sixty years.
Limes fetch a better price than avocados. This is partly because big business has got involved with avocados in recent years plus imports from New Zealand are contributing to dropping prices. Limes are more of a niche market, where there is a strong ongoing demand from bars and restaurants.
Apples and bananas always sell well and one of the less common fruit, custard apples, is surprisingly popular at our local market. Mandarins are quite good sellers. Grapefruit and lemons do not sell well. Persimmons are in great demand in Asia but do not sell well in Australia.
With organic fruit trees, unless you have a lot of land, you need to be more selective than with vegetables. It is easy to change from one vegetable to another, but with organic fruit trees your decisions have a much greater impact in terms of the size of your investment. This is because you need to dedicate more time, space and money to establish a longterm income than with vegetables. It is also worth spending more time researching organic fruit trees and developing expertise in the ones you select.
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