Father and son, Derek and Marek Fisher, are understandably pretty excited about their new horticulture venture, blueberries.
For the last few years they have built a successful Olive Grove, Regans Ford Estate, which from the ground up is one of the most innovative groves in WA. Looking for something new to do with a vacant paddock they came across a unique variety of blueberries.
The blueberries are a warm climate, low chill variety, which produces a large gourmet fruit. The Fishers are one of seven WA farmers who have the licence to the PBR (Plant Breeder Rights) to produce this unique variety, which will yield fruit from June to Feb.
It is easy to see why they are enthusiastic. Apart from the label of “superfood”, blueberries are profitable. Today more than 2,400 tonnes of blueberries, with a farmgate value of $A30 million, are picked from farms all across Australia.
In Australia the consumption of fresh blueberries has grown dramatically. Currently we consume more than 1,400 tonnes of fresh blueberries every year. This is expected to grow further as the blueberry is gaining confectionary status as a healthy, sweet snack.
The Fishers have just planted 14,000 trees in a pine bark soil mix in 45 litre green bags. Not only do the bags provide a controlled acidic soil, they also offer an efficiency bonus; they can house 2 hectares of bushes under a 1 hectare hot house. The hot houses bring on earlier fruiting, therefore increasing the available market.
Their goal is to have six hectares of hot houses and four hectares of bird netted area, housing 50,000 to 60,000 bushes. At full production they’ll achieve in excess of 1.5million punnets a year. Their aim is to service the WA consumer needs which is now served by the eastern states.
Together, this father and son team, are creating one of WA’s biggest and most northerly blueberry farms to feed WA’s growing appetite for this healthy confectionery.