The hardy trees are being grown the dry region as part of an export potential trial in South East Asia for the Chinese date, also known as jujubes or Ziziphus zizyphus, reported The West Australian newspaper.
With the picking season coming over the next few months, Mr Jackson’s Chinese date crop represents a move away from the region’s traditional livestock business, which is under pressure from low prices and the ongoing drought.
“Diversification has a lot more to do with challenging old mindsets than it does with simply adding another enterprise to your business,” he said.
Chinese dates have a good export potential to South East Asia, according to Mr Jackson, and there are also opportunities to introduce the fruit to the Australian domestic market.
“When just ripe, they have a firm texture similar to a small apple,” he said. “Left to ripen longer they will dry on the tree with a date-like texture.”
The WA Department of Agriculture and Food plans to take 100kg of the fruit to Singapore and Malaysia in March to test demand.
Mr Jackson’s Austin Downs property has a licence to irrigate using aquifer water, and he said the Murchison region was clean environment for growing that didn’t require pesticides or herbicides.