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Life on the land in Australia

Exchanging the Central QLD cattle life for an Avocado farm near Bundaberg QLD

ON THE MEND: Donovan Family Investments owner Lachlan Donovan talks about how avocado production is recovering after the floods. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail

OVER two decades ago Lachlan Donovan and his family traded a cattle station in Central Queensland for the life of avocado growers in the Wide Bay region.

It was a huge learning curve for the Donovans, but Lachlan said his family wouldn’t have life any other way.

Growing avos is tricky business in the dry Bundaberg region.

“We learnt pretty quickly, if you don’t look after the avocado trees, they die,” he joked.

“They are very sensitive – a lot more so than mangos and macadamias.

“Being a rainforest tree, they like lots of water, but they can also suffer when they have wet feet.”

The Donovan property carries 70,000 trees that produce 3000-4000 tonnes of the tasty fruit each year.

“We’ve got a machine to test the avocados before we start picking,” he said.

“It scans for dry matter; if the tree has more than 21% then we are right to start picking.

“We use a lot of local pickers as well as backpackers.”

With 300ha under trees the family grow different types including Shepard, Hass and Lamb Hass as their major varieties but also carry some Sharwil and Wurtz.

Lachlan said the varieties were ready for picking at different stages of the year, which helped keep up with consumer demand.

The Donovans sell their avocados through The Avolution, a grower-owned fresh produce focused marketing company.

Lachlan said it was a family business where his wife Annaleise and sons Miles and Clayton were both heavily involved.

“That is a very important part of our success – that the family is heavily involved in carrying the burden.”

Lachlan is also the director of Avocados Australia, a not-for-profit organisation to support growers.

In his role as director Lachlan works to ensure the product is marketed correctly, the growers are kept informed and to improve issues within the industry.

“Some issues include supply and demand, disease, insects and registration of chemicals,” he said.

Lachlan said a lot of the trees on his property were more than 30 years old; however they were planting new additions at the moment.

“It takes about three or four years for them to start producing a good fruit.”

And while Lachlan chooses to start his day with avocado on toast, he said avocado served on anything was his favourite thing to eat.

“It goes pretty good on steak too,” he laughed.

Henry Sapiecha

February 12th, 2018
Topic: Avocadoes, Cattle, PEOPLE, PLANTS CROPS WEEDS, Queensland, SMART FARMING Tags: , , , ,

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