Dragon fruit farm passion is paying off
Bernice has enjoyed success for 16 years
BERNICE Danahay has run the Red Fox Pitayas Dragon Fruit Growers farm, just outside of Nanango for the past 16 years.
“I originally came from Victoria ... and had never grown dragon fruit before,” Ms Danahay said.
“I got interested in all different plants, dragon fruit really took my eyes and I started growing those.
“We’re at the stage now where we are breeding new varieties.
“One of the breeds has come back from commercial trails and the growers tell me they’re getting $2 extra a kilogram than other ones and the wholesalers have told them to bring as many as possible.
“That’s a purple one, which is very sweet.”
Ms Danahay said growing the dragon fruit was a hobby that got out of control.
“They’ve been grown in the area before as a garden plant and I really got interested in them, as we couldn’t grow anything like that where we used to be,” she said.
“I started to plant them and then you know how hobbies can get out of control.”
Ms Danahay said water was the biggest challenge to growing the fruit.
“They’re a subtropical plant, a lot of people say its a cacti and it’s a desert plant,” she said.
“But no, no, no, they like water. “They love to be fed. “You can see some of the plants are getting quite dry, but that’s like everybody at the moment.”
On top of growing dragon fruit, Ms Danahay has grown many trees on her property and turned it into a tropical rainforest.
“We’ve planted hundreds of native rainforest trees,” she said.
“When we bought the place it was basically just beaten land.
“We’ve got lots of lovely rainforest walks and we do bus tours out here.
“Everybody seemed to love it. There are over 200 plus birds.”
She said operating tours was a good way to introduce people to the fruit.
“When we started no one knew what dragon fruit was, it was like huh what’s that,” Ms Danahay said.
“Now we supply plants for big growers, we’ve supplied the plants for 20 dragon fruit farms starting up.
“That’s the main part of our business, and the new varieties.”
Ms Danahay said she generally operated the farm single-handedly without the support of pickers or other staff.
“Because of the way dragon fruit work, I can pick some one day, pick some the next and just keep tacking away at it,” she said.
“It’s quite good, they finish that flush, I might have a couple of weeks spare, but then they’ll start again.”
Ms Danahay said she was getting to the stage where she was considering moving on from the farm.
“I think this year will probably be our last and then the place will probably go on sale,” she said.
“The boys aren’t really interested and I’m here by myself most of the time.
“After getting the taste of travel overseas, I’d quite like to do a lot more of that.”
❝ I started to plant them and then you know how hobbies can get out of control. — Bernice Danahay
GREEN THUMB: Red Fox Pitayas Dragon Fruit Growers owner Bernice Danahay.
Freshly picked dragon fruit .
A promising new dragon fruit crop.
Red Fox Pitayas Dragon Fruit.