FACT SHEET No: 15/03
There is a strong interest in the potential of Australian native food plants for commercial cropping. Potential growers often ask a similar range of questions, which this publication attempts to address. Further information can be obtained from specific-crop Fact Sheets in this series, as well as the Fact Sheet 'Native Food Crops – Sources of Information'.
What is the market demand like for native food crops?
The demand varies from crop to crop, however for the core range of plants that the industry is focusing on the demand is generally good, with the main constraint on market growth being a shortage of supply. However, for plants outside this core range the market demand is less certain, and may range from good to non-existent. For any crop, potential growers shoulddiscuss likely market demand with buyers before proceeding.
How much money can I make from growing these crops?
For some crops there are guidelines available as to possible yields and sale prices, which can be used as a basis for budgeting gross returns. These guidelines are largely 'best-bet' scenarios, in that they are usually based on a limited amount of experience and assume a 'fair average' level of management and environmental conditions and moderate cultivated and wild-harvest supply.
However, the costs of production and resulting net returns are more difficult to assess, given limited experience and the variation that could occur from area to area, environment to
Can I grow these crops without irrigation?
Many native food crops will grow without irrigation, particularly when rainfall is similar or greater than that experienced by the plants in their native area. However, the fact that the aim of cultivation is to maximise yield and achieve product quality targets (not just grow plants), and that the incremental gains from irrigation normally outweigh the costs, means that in most cases irrigation is both an advisable and profitable activity if water is available.
Can I irrigate with saline water?
Some crops, such as quandongs, are known to tolerate highly saline water without showing obvious signs of distress. However, the ultimate effect on growth rates and yields is not well understood. Potential growers who are planning to irrigate with saline water should be prepared for possible adverse effects.
Is my property suitable for growing native foods?
Property suitability depends on the interplay of many factors, including regional and site climate, soil physical and chemical characteristics, aspect, slope and water quality. Some initial crop/site screening can be undertaken by examining the broad environmental requirements of individual species. Beyond this, a site inspection by an experienced consultant is recommended to adequately assess property suitability.
Further information on native crops is contained in the other publications in this series:
Australian Native Citrus — Wild Species, Cultivars and Hybrids
Bush Tomato Desert Raisin Production
Miscellaneous Native Food Crops — Davidson and Illawarra Plums
Miscellaneous Native Food Crops — Herbs and Vegetables with Potential in SA
Mountain Pepper Production
Native Food Background Notes
Native Food Crops — Frequently Asked Questions
The Native Food Industry in SA Wattleseed Production
These fact sheets are also available for download from the CSIRO/RIRDC Native Foods Website at http:www.cse.csiro.au/research/nativefoods/ and PIRSA website www.pir.sa.qov.au or from the national PrimeNotes CD.
The assistance of staff at the former Australian Native Produce Industries Pty Ltd in the preparation of the original publication (November 2001) is gratefully acknowledged.
Anthony Hele occupied the position of Industry Development Consultant — Native Foods, a position which was jointly funded by Primary Industries and Resources South Australia and Australian Native Produce Industries Pty Ltd. These fact sheets have been updated by Yvonne Latham, Maarten Ryder >and Marie O'Hanlon, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.