Trial and error has led to a booming export business for a Macleay Valley farmer.
Paul Dalley first experimented with growing natives in the late 1980s, when he trialled West Australian varieties.
“The first few were a complete failure. So I tried Christmas bush the next year and it was a smash hit straight away,” he said.
Mr Dalley took the plunge and mass planted the Australian native into his hilly, coastal soils, and by 1994 he was shipping cut flowers to Japan.
The response was enthusiastic and now the Japanese market makes up 80 per cent of his sales.
The flowers are picked and placed in water, then held in a cool room until processed and packed.
The bulk flowers are trucked to Sydney in refrigerated containers and loaded on a direct flight to Tokyo.
Mr Dalley said temperature control was critical for the two shipments a week.
The quarantine process is thorough, with zero tolerance for insects.
“We have occasional fumigations. It’s difficult to avoid with a field grow crop,” Mr Dalley said.
Prime growing conditions
Mountain Nursery now grows about 2,000 individual Christmas bushes on the property.
“It needs a certain amount of cold to set its flowers. Too much cold will knock the flowers off, too much heat will spoil the developing crop,” Mr Dalley said.
“It grows quite easily, but to produce the crop to a high standard takes a high degree of management throughout the year.
“Like most forms of farming and flower growing, it is about finding the crop that suits your environment, and you can match that up with the market demand, hopefully.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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