grower-paul-rossettoPaul Rossetto, Griffith

As the Australian wine-grape industry crisis deepened so too did the concerns of Riverina grower, Paul Rossetto. Staring down the bleak future that loomed with an expired supply contract, Paul considered discouraging options that included growing grapes at a loss, walking off the land, subdivision of his 90 acre vineyard, or, hazard a gamble on an alternative crop.

Through encouragement from a good friend and neighbour, Paul was led to research the economics of entering the almond industry. Paul was surprised to discover the almond industry is rapidly becoming one of Australia’s fastest growing horticulture sectors set to take on industry giant Spain and become the world’s second largest almond producer by 2015.

“When I researched the almond industry, I was pleasantly surprised and couldn’t wait to get started on converting to almonds”. Paul saw a number of advantages in growing almonds. “I was impressed with a relatively cheap crop to plant which returned high gross margins, is a non-perishable product that can be mechanically harvested once a year.

Almonds are also well suited to our soils” said Paul at his Yenda property.

“The other consideration was a secure15-year contract to grow and supply almonds with a well established grower owned processor such as Almondco”. Paul said he was fortunate he could take advantage of existing mechanisms and infrastructure which already existed such as a loan facility with Rabobank, land resources, water
allocations and a drip irrigation system that were already in place from the previous vineyard.

“These factors made the conversion to almonds easier” Paul said. Buoyed by brothers who had already developed an efficient vine removal process that allowed him to recycle 10,000 treated posts, as well as a readily available casual labor resource, Paul set about removing his vines in February this year, and within a five month time frame replaced them with 11,000 almond trees. All going well, Paul said “I am looking forward to our first almond harvest in three years.

Photo courtesy of Area News