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Novelty fruit's red date with destiny

Countryman
WA Jujube Growers Association secretary Nola Doswell, from Jelcobine, and Peter Dawson, from Gidgegannup, with DAFWA's Rachelle Johnstone.
Camera IconWA Jujube Growers Association secretary Nola Doswell, from Jelcobine, and Peter Dawson, from Gidgegannup, with DAFWA's Rachelle Johnstone. Credit: Countryman

The jujube may still be a novelty for many West Australians, but after three years work by the Department of Agriculture and Food, the fruit is gaining more prominence.

Jujubes, formerly known as Chinese red dates, are in season until April and DAFWA development officer Rachelle Johnstone believes their future is bright.

"WA is Australia's leading jujube producing State with about 10,000 trees planted and 30 growers in the Perth Hills, Wheatbelt and South West," she said.

"Demand continues to outstrip supply and fruit has been retailing through specialist outlets for $8 to $15 per kilogram."

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Jujubes resemble small apples, but have a unique, sweet flavour.

They are sold mainly at Asian grocery stores in the metropolitan area and farmers' markets.

They are very popular in China, both fresh and preserved.

Ms Johnstone said the jujube's easy management and drought and salt tolerance could enable it to become a niche crop in many areas of the State.

DAFWA's work was supported by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

This has enabled a growing guide to be developed using data from orchards at York, Gidgegannup and Bindoon.

This information is available on DAFWA's website at agric.wa.gov.au.

DAFWA has also assisted in the recent formation of the WA Jujube Growers Association.

This should result in a more cohesive jujube industry, improving varieties, marketing and quality control.

Any growers wishing to join the group should email Nola Doswell at ndoswell@bigpond.net.au for more information.

"Jujubes grow and produce well in WA, with excellent fruit quality," Ms Johnstone said.

"With ongoing research and good promotion, they could become a valuable industry."

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