Jujube demand grows


Peter Dawson in his jujube orchard: “We are getting inquiries from markets in Sydney and Melbourne who want 100 trees. We can’t keep up with the demand!”  Picture: David Baylis          d450612
Peter Dawson in his jujube orchard: “We are getting inquiries from markets in Sydney and Melbourne who want 100 trees. We can’t keep up with the demand!” Picture: David Baylis         d450612

But the farmer has a special connection with one fruit in particular, which is taking the Australian fruit market by storm.

“My family actually introduced jujubes to WA about 25 years ago,” he said.

“My father brought them here in the early ’90s, after they had been in the US for more than a century.”

Jujubes were thought to be discovered in China more than 3000 years ago.

The small apple-like fruit is an Asian delicacy, used for medicinal purposes, as well as eating.

Mr Dawson said local demand had increased dramatically over the past few years.

“They weren’t so popular back then,” he said.

“Now there’s a huge demand.

“We only had six trees to start with; we’ve got over 100 now.”

The Department of Agriculture said WA is emerging as the nation’s leading producer, with jujubes also growing in the Perth Hills, York, Bindoon and the South-West.

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said the industry was small but expanding, as the bulk of WA’s commercial orchards were less than five years old.

“We have about 40 growers producing fruit from about 12,500 trees on 20ha,” he said.

“Almost 3000 new trees are being planted each year, which should significantly boost supplies of the fruit in years to come.”

The Dawsons have more than 10 varieties growing on their property.

The seeds of the jujube are unfertile, so new plants are grown by grafting: using a piece of a living tree and putting the roots of it on to another.

“We can graft them to cater for the order,” Mr Dawson said.

“Depending on whether they want them for fresh, dried or ornamental use.”

He said most buyers wanted fresh variety due to the large profit margin.

“We are getting inquiries from markets in Sydney and Melbourne who want 100 trees,” he said.

“We can’t keep up with the demand!”

And the high demand allows Mr Dawson to pick and choose who to sell to.

“I prefer to sell to Aussie families, Aussie battlers like me” he said.

“I’m not interested in selling to big companies as I know they’re not as passionate.

“I’d rather sell 1000 trees to small growers because I know they can make a living off that.”

Mr Dawson said WA currently does not export to China, as the current quantity produced is not enough.

“We don’t even have enough for the Perth demands,” he said.

“The Chinese would want a whole sea container!”

Jujubes are in season now and available until the end of April.