Machine adds to onion appeal

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

Peeling onions is nothing to cry about, especially when there is another way it can be done.

Myalup farmers Joe and Sonia Castro have been growing onions, potatoes and carrots on their 175 hectares for nearly two decades.

And for the past 12 months they have been peeling onions, not by hand, but with an industrial-sized peeling machine.

The peeled onions receive a premium and go direct into fast food chains and restaurants.

“The red onions go to McDonald’s and the brown ones to Hungry Jack’s, ” Mr Castro said.

“It’s good because with the second-grade onions you can’t sell whole, you can put through a machine and then get a premium for it.”

Joe and Sonia also grow and harvest carrots all year and potatoes from July to December.

They clean and package the carrots themselves and all produce goes to the Perth markets or directly to shops.

“The two logos for carrots are Bright Eyes and WA All The Way, ” Mr Castro said.

At this time of the year, the couple are planting spuds and onions and harvesting carrots.

“The biggest task is the carrots, ” Mrs Castro said.

“With potatoes the biggest task is seeding because you have to cut the potato seed and plant them, it’s quite meticulous.”

Varieties include Nadine, Royal Blue, Ruby Lou and Charisma all of which are for the domestic market.

“One day we would like to pack our own potatoes, ” Mr Castro said.

“When we began in about 1991 we sent all our carrots to exporters, but for the past 11 years we have been packing and selling them.

“It’s a lot more profitable, but it’s more work.”

The Castros produce 2300 tonnes of potatoes, grow and pack 6000 tonnes of carrots and grow and peel 2000 tonnes of onions each year.

They also buy from other growers to add volume to their packing and export carrots to countries like Dubai and Singapore.

Mr Castro said they were always growing and expanding and looking for new opportunities.

“The only issues with that is land and water, ” he said.

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