Pro­duc­ing top qual­ity mel­ons

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE RURAL - Erica Mur­ree erica.mur­

RACK­E­MANN Re­sources have three to four weeks of har­vest­ing for this sea­son’s wa­ter­melon crop at their Ban Ban prop­erty.

Ben Rack­e­mann said last week this area re­ceived around 85mm of wel­come rain. “We were only held up pick­ing for about five to six days,” he said.

“There wasn’t too much dam­age to the crop but the rain was more ben­e­fi­cial to other crops in the area.” Along with some lo­cals, Rack­e­mann Re­sources’ ma­jor work­force are back­pack­ers. “We have been har­vest­ing on and off through the sea­son since mid-De­cem­ber,” he said. “But we did get to have Christ­mas and Box­ing Days off.”

Rack­e­mann Re­sources’ aim is to pro­duce the high­est qual­ity. “The big­ger the bet­ter,” he said.

“We plant seed­less va­ri­ety as that is what the mar­ket de­mands.” Rack­amel­ons, as they are branded, are trans­ported mainly to the Bris­bane mar­ket. With a far bit of fruit down south Mr Rack­e­mann said it is un­eco­nom­i­cal to freight them past the bor­der.

He said prices for the sea­son have been up and down. “We don’t have a lot of con­trol over prices,” he said.

“We rely on our agents to get a good price for our prod­uct. “Prob­a­bly by the end of the sea­son it will be classed as av­er­age with re­gard to price.” With only three to four weeks of har­vest­ing, Rack­e­man Re­sources will go onto pumpkins.

With wa­ter­mel­ons you need a clean soil and no trash in the soil.

Rack­e­mann Re­sources plants mel­ons in blocks which are ro­tated with other crops. Ben Rack­e­mann said ro­tat­ing the pad­docks helped with dis­ease con­trol.

“Ev­ery pad­dock ser­viced by un­der­ground bores has a ground mon­i­tor probe,” he said. “This helps pri­ori­tise what pad­docks need or doesn’t need watering.

“This is crit­i­cal in grow­ing mel­ons.

“With­out this mon­i­tor­ing we are fly­ing blind”.

The un­der­ground mon­i­tors can be hooked up to the phone or lap­top.

Ben said with wa­ter­melon crops tim­ing is ev­ery­thing. “We keep up the fungi­cides for pro­tec­tion from any weather events,” he said. “Dis­ease doesn’t cause an im­pact if pre­pared.

“If you put your money in early you see a re­ward at the end.” Mr Rack­e­mann said it wasn’t a nice sit­u­a­tion the Bund­aberg farms who have been placed un­der biose­cu­rity re­stric­tions last month with cu­cum­ber green mot­tle mo­saic virus (CGMMV) are in. CGMMV is a se­ri­ous dis­ease of plants in the cu­cur­bit fam­ily such as rock­mel­ons, cu­cum­bers and wa­ter­mel­ons. CGMMV has been shown to be trans­mit­ted by seed. Mr Rack­e­mann said there is now some very strict test­ing regime be­ing un­der­taken on all seeds.

❝ If you put your money in early you see a re­ward at the end. — Ben Rack­e­mann


JUICY WA­TER­MEL­ONS: It’s har­vest­ing time at Rack­e­mann Re­sources farm at Ban Ban.

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