Horticulture

Extension bears fruit

By Country News

For David and Trish Vigliaturo, doubling the size of their Ardmona packhouse was never the plan.

But in the end, Mr Vigliaturo said ‘‘there was no choice’’.

The couple built a multi-million-dollar extension 18 months ago with more space for storage and a controlled atmosphere coolstore, and brought in a second, digital, state-of-the-art apple, pear and stone fruit grader.

Ever since, growers have been knocking on their door and both graders are now in action up to six days a week with 140 bins of apples sorted daily at the height of the season.

With the help of a Victorian Government grant to expand their business, the Vigliaturos now employ 40 staff grading fruit for the local and export markets, creating 12 new full-time-equivalent jobs.

‘‘We can run class one unwaxed fruit on one grader and premium waxed and class two waxed fruit on the other without having to re-tip,’’ Mr Vigliaturo said.

‘‘Some packhouses find that a real challenge.’’

Although positive about the industry in the face of this successful investment, Mr Vigliaturo knew that without water he wouldn’t have a business.

He believed the infrastructure modernisation through the Connections project gave northern Victoria a competitive edge.

‘‘The knowledge that the channel system will deliver water efficiently for irrigators to grow fruit or vegies or crops makes us one of the luckiest areas in Australia,’’ Mr Vigliaturo said.

‘‘I don’t know any other region with a system quite like ours. The infrastructure that we have will be even more important in the future.

‘‘Keeping water in the district is hugely important now and will be massively important going forward.’’

The Vigliaturo property sits on Central Goulburn number four channel, which was remediated and upgraded during the 2018 Connections project winter works.

At this site 2km of channel was lined with a geosynthetic clay liner, generating water savings of about 505Ml/year.