Victorian Vegetable Growing Regions
East Gippsland | West Gippsland | West Melbourne | South East Melbourne | Central Victoria | North West Region | South West Victoria
East Gippsland is a diverse agricultural region, with vegetables being grown in two main areas. Production in East Gippsland is concentrated on the Mitchell River flats near Bairnsdale, but can be found between Orbost and around the Maffra and Sale areas.
Approximately 3,500 ha of vegetables are produced in East Gippsland per annum, with a gross value of $36.5M, is which accounts for almost 10% of Victoria's vegetable production (excluding potatoes). In addition seed crops for maize and sweet corn are produced around the Orbost area.
Broccoli, baby leaf vegetables, cabbage, lettuce and hydroponic tomatoes are grown all year around. Sweet corn is harvested January to May, asparagus August to December, beans December to May, capsicum February to May, carrots February to November, Chinese cabbage March to August, pea November to June, potato September to May and snowpea November to May.
Year round production of range of vegetable crops and opportunity to expand production areas are the main strengths of East Gippsland. High water quality in rivers and groundwater combined with quality soil, mean that the river flats are prime production zones, which is aided by moderate coastal climate, mild winter and high summer rainfall.
Gippsland is unique due to its mild climate and high rainfall, which lends itself to year round production of a range of vegetable crops. In January Bairnsdale has a mean maximum temperature of 24.6°C and in July 13.8°C with an average annual rainfall of 700mm. East Gippsland provides a unique climate in Victoria due to its coastal influence and the effect of the mountains on the prevailing weather patterns. This means it is consistently warmer in winter and cooler in summer than Melbourne, with westerly wind patterns diverted over the mountains and out to sea.
For more information please contact Rob Dimsey (Sub Project Leader Vegetables), or Lavinia Zirnsak (Plant Standards/Vegetable Officer), Department of Primary Industries, Bairnsdale Phone: (03) 5152 0600.
West and South Gippsland region contain higher rainfall areas with prime agricultural lands suitable for intensive agriculture. The climate of the area is suitable for temperate horticulture and soils of high productive areas are naturally well drained and deep. This region extends from west of Warragul to the Gippsland lakes and from Great Dividing Range to Wilson’s Promontory and Bass Straight.
Horticultural industries in West and South Gippsland region contribute with $50M ($46M in 2005) to the Victorian economy annually. Potato is the main horticulture industry in West Gippsland and it is well known for it. Potatoes are cultivated in about 2000ha in Thorpdale, Warragul, Neerim and Mirboo North areas and topography is undulating. Seed potato industry produced about 42% (13670 tonnes in 2005) of the Victorian seed production some of that is exported to overseas and other states of Australia. West Gippsland also produces fresh market potatoes which is worth over $23m (year 2005) per year. The average yield of potatoes in Gippsland is around 37tonnes per hectare significantly higher than the state average. Potato season spreads from November to June. (Kooweerup swamp is known as the most stable crisping potato area in Australia).
Other horticultural industries include snow pea, cultivated around Wonthaggi, Korumburra, Leongatha and Phillip Island areas of Southern Gippsland. Onion is mainly grown in Kooweerup and Thorpdale areas while carrot and tomato spreads as limited acreages. Hydroponic tomato industry is expanding in the area with currently at an annual value of $ 8M (in 2005) and a large producer, Flavourite, is located at Warragul.
This region has reliable water supplies based on several rivers and ground water resources. However there are seasons where rains water is sufficient with minimal irrigation for horticulture. Proximity to the main markets such as Melbourne and Dandenong and road infrastructure served by several highways (princes, South Gippsland, Strzelecki, Hyland & Bass Highways) and increasing population in the eastern growth corridor has given horticultural produces an advantage over other areas.
This region receives higher rainfalls in the range of 900mm to 1100mm per year. Annual average range from 800mm in the west and east while south receiving 1400mm (in Strzelecki’s) and north receiving 1700mm (Great Dividing Range). Temperatures in the main horticultural areas are generally ideal for horticulture especially long hot summer days and cool nights favouring potatoes for higher productions. West Gippsland has mild to warm summers with average maximum temperatures of around 21(near coast and elevated areas) to 250C (inland) in January. In winter, average maximum temperatures are mostly around 12 to 140C in July.
For more information please contact Neville Fernando DPI, Ellinbank (Phone 03 5624 2267).
Production areas include Werribee South, Keilor, Bacchus Marsh.
|1.||Werribee South is situated 32 km south-west of Melbourne as part of what is known as the Port Philip Region. It is situated on part of the alluvial delta at the mouth of the Werribee River. The area covers 3000 hectares and 70% of this is considered ideal for vegetable growing. Werribee South has about 150 vegetable farms that have been family farmed for over 50 years.|
|2.||Bacchus Marsh is located 30 km north-west of Melbourne, on the fertile flood plain of the Werribee River. Bacchus Marsh is a highly developed agricultural district specialising in dairy, horticulture and market gardening. The total agricultural area covers 1900 hectares of which 300 hectares is irrigated vegetable production.|
|3.||Keilor is located 15 km north-west of Melbourne on the fertile flood plain of the Maribyrnong River.|
The main crops grown at Werribee South, Bacchus Marsh and Keilor are broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, salad mix, onions and cabbages, which can be grown and supplied all year round. Werribee South produces a significant amount of the state's niche vegetables, which are fennel, artichoke and cos lettuce. Lettuce and cos lettuce is generally supplied between the months October to May but not from June to September, as it is too cold. Fennel can be supplied from February to October and artichokes can be supplied from June to November.
Growers are located in close proximity to markets and transport. Werribee South has the ability to produce quality vegetables 12 months of the year. The soils are very fertile and can sustain cultivation for many years. The soils of the Werribee South plains consist of a red-brown clay loam over a heavy red to calcareous clay.
The average rainfall at Werribee South is below 600mm. Irrigation water is channelled from the Werribee River and pumped from bores tapped into an aquifer. The main aquifer used for irrigation purposes is called the "Werribee Delta". This aquifer has a common salinity range from 500-6000 mg/L total dissolved salts. Werribee South has a mean daily temperature range between 8.7°C to 19.5°C.
South East Melbourne (Cranbourne, Mornington Peninsula & Koo Wee Rup)
One of Victoria's most significant vegetables growing areas is situated south east of Melbourne. It includes Cranbourne, the Mornington Peninsula and Koo Wee Rup Swamp, spanning over 6000 hectares and being farmed by 200 businesses.
The crops grown in this area are asparagus, Asian vegetables, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, celery, celeriac, leeks, Dutch carrots, garlic, endive, lettuce, Kohl rabi, herbs, parsley, parsnip, potatoes, radish, pumpkins, rhubarb, snowpeas, silverbeet, spring onions, spinach, salad mix, sweet corn, turnips, tomatoes, zucchini and witlof. Crisping potatoes are grown in the Koo Wee Rup area.
Asian vegetables, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, leeks, Dutch carrots, endive, herbs, parsley, parsnip, radish, rhubarb, silverbeet, spring onions, spinach, salad mix and turnips are produced all year around. Asparagus is harvested November to January. Lettuce is harvested from November to April and potatoes are harvested January to May.
Growers are located in close proximity to markets and transport. The area has the ability to produce quality vegetables 12 months of the year.
Climate and soil
Climate and soil type makes South East Melbourne a significant vegetable production area. The climate is temperate, with mainly winter rainfall and warm summers. The annual rainfall is 750mm, while the mean maximum temperature is 19°C and mean minimum temperature is 10°C.
For more information please contact Slobodan Vujovic DPI, Knoxfield Phone: (03) 9210 9222.
Central Victoria including Shepparton, Echuca, Tatura and Cobram is famed for its tomato production. The area is home to one of the largest processing companies in Australia, SPC Ardmona as well as a number of others such Cedenco, Unifoods and Campbell’s Soups. This has greatly influenced the development of the vegetable production industry in the region.
The main crop grown in the area is tomatoes, for fresh market and processing (whole fruit into cans, concentrate and secondary products such as soup, pasta sauce, and baked beans). The fresh tomato industry has moved to new gourmet trellised varieties since 1998.The harvest of fresh tomatoes is from late December to mid-May. Fresh trellis tomatoes are picked by a combination of hand and machine. Processing tomatoes are mechanically harvested between February and April. The Northern Victoria Fresh Tomato Association (NVFTA) and the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) are both based in the area.
As well as tomatoes the other crops grown in the area include carrots, onions, cucurbits, capsicum and eggplant. There are a number of organic, glasshouse and hydroponic enterprises as well as field grown crops. For production figures check Australian Bureau of Statistics
The region has the benefit of cool winters and warm summers. It has extensive irrigation infrastructure and high solar radiation. Average Rainfall is less than 500mm and crops are irrigated by river water from the Goulburn-Murray system. Above 90% of tomato production is irrigated with drip irrigation system.
Tomato production has the added advantage of being close to end markets such as processing facilities and the Melbourne Wholesale Market is only two hours away.
Industry trends are for few large farms rather than many small ones. There is some research with the fresh market tomato industry being conducted at the Dept. of Primary Industries -Tatura research facility.
North West Region
The region along the Murray River in north-west Victoria is home to a wide range of crops. It is almost entirely dependent on the waters of the Murray River for irrigation and so production occurs within a long narrow strip up to about 20 km from the river. Soil generally consists of red sands with a high pH and little organic matter.
Asparagus is harvested from Aug- Oct and Dec- March. Melon harvest is from Nov - April and Carrots are grown March- Dec to avoid quality problems during times of high heat. Cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicum and zucchini are grown in greenhouses and in the field; they are harvested from late Sept until June. Potatoes can be planted to get two crops a year with harvest in early summer and the main season of autumn/winter. Lettuce and broccoli are grown for harvesting from April to Oct. Pumpkin is available for the first 6 months of the year.
The region's warmer climate is an excellent compliment to the seasonal supply of southern Victoria with crops able to be grown counter seasonal (eg. lettuce and baby-leaf crops) or to extend the season by starting earlier and finishing later (eg. potatoes and asparagus).
Taking advantage of the region's sunshine there are a number of crops (mainly cucurbits) that are grown in the area and are not grown in significant quantities elsewhere in Victoria. There is also a small glasshouse industry.
Compared with other more densely populated areas of Victoria the land price in the region is relatively cheap. This has allowed for the development of large scale production particularly for crops with a high degree of mechanisation. (eg. carrot and potato).
The region is central to 3 of Australia's capital cities and their wholesale markets, Melbourne (6hrs), Adelaide (4hrs) and Sydney (10hrs).
The regions climate can be described as warm and semi arid with hot summer days and warm nights, and mild winter days and cold nights with some frosts. Rainfall is low and spread evenly throughout the year. The region's water comes from the Murray River and to a small degree the Darling and Murrumbidgee Rivers on the NSW side of the region. Rainfall is not sufficient to be able to grow vegetable crops without irrigation.
For more information please contact Sally-Ann Henderson DPI, Mildura Phone (03) 5051 4500.
South West Victoria
South-west Victoria produces two main vegetable crops, namely potatoes and tomatoes with small production of a range of other crops such as lettuce and broccoli. Other agricultural enterprises in this region include apples, viticulture, wheat, beef, dairy, pigs and sheep.
Most commercial potato growers are located in the Ballarat district to supply the McCains factory, whilst seed potato growers are scattered throughout Ballarat (25 growers), Colac (11 growers) and Portland (7 growers). Potatoes are generally planted late November and are harvested from March to May, producing 127800 tonnes annually. Comparatively, tomatoes are grown year round in polyhouses, producing 1400 tonne annually.
Potato growers have access to significant resources including machinery and land. The presence of a McCains factory in Ballarat provides a key demand for vegetables from the surrounding region, especially from commercial potato growers.
Plant protection districts established in Colac and Portland also provide farmers with a competitive advantage because produce is more likely to be disease free due to restrictions in movement of produce and equipment that may be carrying disease.
Currently significant volumes of potatoes or tomatoes are not exported; instead these vegetables are supplied to local markets.
Climate and soil
South-west Victoria experiences a predominantly moderate climate, even though temperatures can range between -6.0ºC and 42.6ºC throughout the year. Average yearly rainfall ranges between 699.3mm and 835.8mm. The Western District plains located in south-west Victoria are comprised of rich, fertile, volcanic soil that provide excellent soil to cultivate vegetables and other crops. The main soil types throughout the region are loam, sand, grey clays and yellow duplex.
For more information please contact Elizabeth Wharton DPI, Ballarat Phone: (03) 5336 6856.