LOCATION - Located in the Riverland region of South Australia in Australia.

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Large scale native vegetation clearance occurred around 70-100 years ago. Large tracts of native bushland throughout our region were removed by the first European settlers to make way for cereal grain growing and stock grazing activities.

Weirs and locks were constructed along the Murray River in the early 1930's which served to hold water back, thereby creating a permanent water supply. This allowed the development of the irrigation industry and more importantly created and opened up a reliable transport and trading route to remote communities along the Murray River and Darling River systems.

The Reilly family purchased Gurra Downs in 1990 and extended our holding with the purchase of neighboring land in 1996. We established a 10 hectare organic vineyard throughout the late 1990's.

Whilst our wine grape activity continues to provide an important income stream, our direction and area of interest is now firmly focused on the production of premium table dates.
The approach we have adopted on our home property site, is to field trial as many date palm varieties as possible. Given that there are no commercial date plantations in our semi-arid district or indeed in our state, we feel it is important for us to economically evaluate a broad range of varieties to determine the most suited selections for our local environment.

Mallee scrub, typically 3-5 metre tall habitat

Lock 4. Constructed 1930

This research and development approach does however reduce our capacity to instantly plant the whole property with one or two varieties as we first intended. Instead we reserve valued planting sites for the introduction of new varieties which can take an extended time frame to  prepare from tissue culture, ready for field planting.

Gurra Downs is located approx Latitude 34.2 degrees S, Longitude 140.5 degrees E, on flat to slightly undulating ground and about 50metres above sea level. We are about 250km north/north east from the coast and the city of Adelaide. There are no effects from sea breezes.
This area is known as the Riverland and exports fresh fruit and produce world-wide.  It is free from both the Mediterranean and Queensland fruit fly.

The Riverland region has a semi-arid/Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and mild to cool winters. Although well known for it's year round sunshine, winter, spring and autumn months have cool nights and chili mornings. Summer is hot with plenty of sun and temperatures often in the high 30's and sometimes low 40's degrees in Celsius.
Average rainfall is 265mm, mostly falling in winter and spring. The evaporation rate is 1800mm per year. Being in the southern hemisphere, flowering of date palms occurs around the first week of September (spring) and harvest is expected to be from mid February to mid April.

Our regional farmlands typically are light sandy to sandy-loam soils. Areas where native vegetation clearance occurred can drift and blow in times of drought and wind.

To discover the process we used to plant our Date Palms view 'Our Plantation''.

Enquiries to reilly@gurradowns.com.au

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