How the dry impacts our pumpkin farms
How the Doljanin family has grown their farming business
PUMPKINS have become the main game for the Doljanin family, after years of being grain growers.
Anthony Doljanin runs AJD Farming, near Yelarbon 50 km east of Goondiwindi, with the help of his wife Jessica, two children Ruby, 4, and Oscar, 3, and his parents Dali and Joan.
Mr Doljanin said they moved from growing grains and pulses to growing pumpkins and cotton in order to get the best returns and the best use of their land.
“We have 100ha of irrigated cotton and 40ha of irrigated pumpkins,” he said.
“We’ve slowly been growing our pumpkin business each year in conjunction with Qualipac.
“We’ve been growing pumpkins for seven years and this is our second cotton crop this year.”
Mr Doljanin said the drought had affected the growth of his crops.
“It’s been hot and very dry, so it’s been quite expensive to grow because we’ve had to irrigate everything.
“We’ve only had 100ml of in-crop rainfall since November. Normally you’d have expected to have about 350ml in that time.”
The high temperatures throughout the season have also affected the pollination of the Doljanins’ pumpkin crop.
“It’s been a really tough season. Pollination was difficult because there aren’t a lot of bees around now, so we bring in bees to pollinate the crops,” Mr Doljanin said.
“But it’s got to be under 26 degrees for the pollen to be viable. So you don’t get a lot of time in the peak of summer because by 8 or 9 o’clock it’s already 30 degrees.
“The bees will still fly around but whether they’re achieving anything for me will be questionable because the pollen may not be viable.
“We get local honey producers to bring the bees in to do the job. We think it’s worthwhile.
“The fruit set probably wasn’t as good as it should have been but we’re still getting some pretty good yields.”
Pumpkins have a male and female flower, so the bees are needed for cross-pollination.
“Each plant produces both flowers,” Mr Doljanin said.
“The male is tall and thin and comes off a long stem.
“The female flowers are closer to the main branch and have the fruit underneath the flowers.”
Mr Doljanin is in the process of picking his pumpkin crop. He said they produced 1500 tonnes of pumpkins per year.
“It’s all hand-harvested. You have to cut the individual pumpkin off the vine,” he said.
“You have to cut the vine as close as you can to the pumpkin so it doesn’t damage the other pumpkins.
“They also have to be placed carefully in the bin. There is a fair bit of quality control that has to be done.”
The entire crop will take about two months to pick.
Mr Doljanin said frost could pose a problem for the pumpkin crop.
“We have to get them all off before the frosts,” he said.
“The plant dies off in the cold weather, and too many frosts will burn the fruit and freeze them inside.”
Mr Doljanin has been on his property since 2006, but his family has been in the area since 1939 when his grandfather immigrated to Australia.
“We’re Italian and Yugoslavian,” Mr Doljanin said.
❝ It’s been hot and very dry, so it’s been quite expensive to grow because we’ve had to irrigate everything. — Anthony Doljanin
“My family grew tobacco in the Inglewood area for years. Then we had a poll hereford stud, Bonni Foi. We dispersed the stud in the late ’90s.
“We were always cropping, but that sort of became our focus after that.
“We did a lot of hay and lucerne hay. We still do contract baling and making our own hay, but it’s just not as big a part of our business now.” AJD Farming is also part of the Discover Farming initiative, which focuses on transparency and showcasing what farmers in the region have to offer.
NEXT GENERATION: Ruby and Oscar Doljanin helping out on the farm.
Oscar and Ruby Doljanin with their father Anthony Doljanin.