Dinicola family explains switch to almonds from mixed farming

THE Dinicolas don’t have any regrets about shaking up their mixed farming business and taking a gamble on almonds.

The family, from Lake Wyangan, near Griffith, believe replacing their rice fields, vegetable and broadacre crops and sheep with the popular nut was the best thing they ever did.

DINICOLA FAMILY

LAKE WYANGAN, NSW

GROWS 485ha of almonds across several blocks

PRODUCES about 700,000 tonnes a year

PLANS to develop an organic almond orchard

SEES a bright future for the nut

Armando Dinicola bought land at Griffith in 1978. He joined a big Italian community of growers producing everything from fruit to wheat.

The farm was passed to son, Denis, who continued with the mixed enterprise until it became apparent that his own children wanted a slice of the farming life.

Denis then began looking at lucrative options to help the farm grow, and settled on nuts.

“With the health-trend boom, nuts became the pick of the horti crops,” Denis said.

“Of all the nuts, almonds offered the fastest return on investment.

“They also had considerable health benefits and could handle a range of climatic conditions.”

To begin with, the Dinicolas planted a 30ha trial plot to confirm if almonds were the right choice.

In 2002 Denis’ faith in the industry was such that he joined the AlmondCo growers’ co-operative, which processes the region’s nuts.

He began planting trees in 2004 and, to support the expansion, sold two of his three rice farms.

“We kept the rice farms while we were developing to help with investment and pay the bills,” he said.

Now the family has 485ha of almond trees and trades as Mandole Almond Orchard.

With almost 75 per cent of Australia’s almond properties 100ha or less, Mandole is considered a heavy hitter.

Of its 485ha, 243ha are in full production, with 246ha planted on a recently purchased neighbouring property and due to come into full production by 2022.

BEAR FRUIT

THE new property was purchased in January last year with planting only finished last month.

The Dinicolas opted for self-pollinating varieties to reduce risk and their reliance on beekeeping services, for which demand is expected to double in the Riverina over the next 10 years.

Almond trees begin producing fruit after three years and enter full production within eight to 10 years.

Mandole’s production currently sits at 700,000 tonnes a year, depending on the season. The new 88,000-tree almond planting is expected to double this by 2022.

While Denis admitted the process of expansion…

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