AN opportunity to further diversify their horticulture crops has seen Andrew and David Moon, Moon Rocks, St George begin planting their first commercial broccoli crop bound for South East Asia.
Partnering with Qualipac Produce, the Moon brothers will plant between 50 to 60 hectares of broccoli periodically each week with crops due for harvest from mid to late May through until September.
The Moon family had previously grown broccoli in the Lockyer Valley “a generation ago” but after planting a successful commercial trial last year, the brothers are now looking at gradually expanding with broccoli.
It’s just another step in building the brother’s horticulture business which has seen them buck the trend of the heavily cotton area of St George and grow onions and garlic to major supermarket chains.
While they do grow cotton for ground cover purposes, Andrew Moon said they were now focused on developing broccoli due to it’s benefits as a rotational crop.
“It’s a natural fumigate so it works well with onions and garlic and it’s suited to the area,” he said.
“(It grows) very well here. We have trialled it for quite a few years and we sort of took the plunge last year (and planted a commercial trial crop) and it worked out alright.”
The broccoli will be grown with a focus on exporting to Japan, Taiwan and Singapore with “a little bit of dribble” into Hong Kong and the UAE.
“We have looked at broccoli for years but the market has never been there,” Mr Moon said.
“Now the dollar has dropped to a reasonable level which has opened up export opportunities.
“The domestic market, from my point of you, you would be mad to just grow for the domestic market because there is none.”
The broccoli will be planted using seeds instead of seedling plants and the brothers plan to slowly grow into the new crop so each year they can learn how to grow the product targeted at their best market.
Mr Moon said sustainability was key and while horticulture grew well in St George, it wasn’t an easy task.
“None of these horticulture crops are for the faint-hearted out here because we have very volatile and variable weather conditions,” he said.
“You have to learn how to grow them here, it doesn't happen in one season.”
Moon Rocks packages about 7000 tonnes of onions each year and are growing their garlic supplies after producing their first commercial crop in 2015.
The business has been supplying onions to Coles for almost 20 years.