SCIENTIFIC NAME: Myrciaria cauliflora
FAMILY: Myrtaceae

Jaboticabas, a southern Brazilian tree fruit, are showing an ability to thrive under a wide range of conditions, and so far appear immune to pests and diseases.

But Cootharaba grower Len Evans suspects that as the industry grows, some problem will sooner or later have to be overcome. So far, after more than three years establishing an orchard, Evans has not had to spray his trees at all.

Jaboticabas have been around in Australia for many years, but have only recently received recognition as having commercial potential.

The tree is propagated from seed under hot and humid germination conditions, and takes two years in the nursery before planting out. A first, light picking can be expected two years later, with the first commercial pick expected at four to five years after field planting. Evans says financial break-even on the orchard is expected at around year eight.

Trees may grow up to 12 metres in rich soils and, while full commercial life is not yet known, it should certainly extend to 30 or 40 years, he said.

At Cootharaba, Evans has 160 jaboticabas which have been in the ground for more than three years, and another 300 in his nursery ready to plant out.

He established and manages an adjacent orchard. This has 200 trees which have been planted out for nine to twelve months and 530 are in the nursery ready to plant.

"Jaboticabas are an excellent horticultural tree for the coastal wallum country," Evans said. "They love waterlogging, and seem impervious to any attacks by pests and disease. We have never sprayed, although we do get a bit of woolly aphid in the first week of spring. The trees will also take a fair amount of frost, which means industry expansion will probably spread from subtropics down towards warm temperate zones, rather than towards the tropics where yields are smaller."

The jaboticaba orchard also survived a severe hail storm, with no more than the loss of a few leaves, when other orchard trees surrounding it were devastated.

Evans' interest in jaboticabas began at a Maroochy Horticultural Research Station four years ago, where two trays of the fruit were on display.

"Kids kept coming back to eat them and I tried one myself. It was an excellent fruit, and I decided to establish an orchard."

First trees were acquired and supplied by John Brady, Pomona Mountain View Nursery. Later Evans propagated his own.

Jaboticabas are perfectly round black fruits when ripe, varying from 10 cent piece to 50 cent piece size in diameter, with an average of 30 mm. They have a distinctive and, to most, a very attractive flavour, and contain one to three edible small seeds.

Jaboticabas are eaten as a table fruit, usually with skin, and are used in jellies, juices and wine-making.

Orchard establishment takes place in mounded rows, nine metres apart. A 60 cm strip is rotary hoed along the top of the mound, and the same strip is deep ripped.

Bob Lake
Extract from Australian Horticulture April/May '89

DATE: July 1989

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