If you ask Merrigum fruit grower Angelo Sciacca what he has in common with famous Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, he is quick to respond.
Modigliani, fondly known as Modi, was a painter in the early 20th century who favoured intense red earth colours.
Third-generation grower Mr Sciacca grows an apple named in the artist’s honour, and harvest season for Modi apples began on March 2.
Mr Sciacca said he was invited to join a small group of local growers planting Modi, originally bred by the University of Bologna in Italy.
He now has 5 ha of young trees producing 200 tonnes of Modi apples per year on his family orchard.
“Modi is a crispy-firm apple which is high in sugar making it a perfect snack,” Mr Sciacca said.
“They prefer higher temperatures and so the Goulburn Valley is very suitable for them.
“The Goulburn Valley region has strong water accessibility, which other regions lack.
“We are very fortunate to have irrigation systems in place to combat extreme temperatures.
“Our modern delivery system along with the on-farm automation system, maximises water-use efficiency placing us ahead of the game on a global scale.”
Goulburn-Murray Water managing director Charmaine Quick said irrigators like Mr Sciacca and his family were prime examples of why the delivery system must be run as a lean and efficient business.
“The irrigation system needs to be affordable to ensure the future prosperity of our business, our customers and our communities,” Ms Quick said.
“Our agile business is meeting all the modern-day challenges our customers are facing to ensure we are contributing to regional development.
“And we are delivering reliable supply, credible business, fair pricing, efficient operations, responsive services, sustainable management and simple systems.”
Mr Sciacca said the Modi was a rare, truly red apple,«« on the market,»» which made it appealing to consumers.