Huge Irrigation Farm for Gundagai
14 January 1947 Goulburn Evening Post
Asparagus, tomatoes vegetable canning pea growing industry is now established in district destined to be the biggest area under spray irrigation in Australia.
A site at Dalkeith, on the Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai, is now being developed by the Batlow Packing House, Co-operative Co. for the production of asparagus, tomatoes and vegetable canning.
Another development is the pea-growing, industry, which will increase considerably with the progress of the years.
Last year the Batlow Packing House Co-Op. treated a large quantity of peas at its pea vining station at South Gundagai.
The yield, owing to the peculiar sea-son, was not as large as anticipated, but indications are that the Gundagai district is an ideal pea-growing centre says the Gundagai Independent.
The peas grown locally stood up remarkably well to dry weather experienced during a critical period.
The first crop started to flower on October 11, but heavy frosts were experienced up until October 26.
It was the frosts, and not the dry conditions that cut down the yield.
It is most unusual to experience heavy frost at such a late period of the year in these parts.
The peas were harvested with modern equipment.
The vines were cut by bean cutter blades attached underneath a Farmall H tractor, with a side delivery rake at the back.
A green crop loader was then used to pick up the entire crop and transfer it to lorries.
The peas, together with the entire plant were then transported to the pea vining station at South Gundagai and treated immediately.
The green peas were then taken to Batlow for canning purposes, and the vines taken away by growers and generally put down as ensilage.
Pea Growing A New Industry
Pea growing is new to the district, being tried for the first time last year.
When sowing peas, two rows of the drill are stopped and then two left open.
This allows a space of about 21 inches between the rows to allow cultivation which is often necessary to break the earth's crust during early stages of growth.
The Batlow Packing House takes all peas grown in the district and is responsible for harvesting.
When the pea crop is al- most ripe the grower notifies them and they send a representative around, who ascertains the expected order of ripening.
Machines used gather up the whole of the plants, which are then taken to the factory for threshing.
About 1000 acres of the Dalkeith River flats were acquired last year 100 acres of which have been planted with asparagus and 120 acres with tomatoes.
The area of asparagus next year will be expanded to 500 acres, and the balance of beans, peas, tomatoes, celery and white onions.
An installation for overhead irrigation capable of spraying the whole area has been completed and now is in operation in most of the area.
The flats have several miles frontage to the Murrumbidgee River, on the banks of which two pumps, electrically powered, will each deliver 67,000 gallons per hour.
Each pump will supply water to eight spray lines each 130 ft. in length and will be capable of delivering the equivalent of four inches of rain to a given section in 21 spraying hours.
Thousands of Tomato Plants
In a riverside nursery, with spray irrigation the farm has this season raised about 60,000 tomato plants.
These were transplanted by machine with a capacity of 400,000 per day.
The seed was germinated in the open in seed boxes protected from the hot westerly winds with hessian frames, but open to the morning sun.
Tatura Dwarf Globe, and Pearson's were the two varieties in use as these were considered of ideal shape, size and texture for canning.
The work at Dalkeith, Gundagai, is part of a plan which envisages one of the biggest irrigated vegetable farms in Australia.
Already vining machines are handling the pea crops of this farm, and those of contract growers.
It was expected that the mass production of peas on the Murrumbidgee flats harvested and shelled by the vining machines; would enable this vegetable to be bought more economically by the housewife in tins than in the pods from the green grocers in cities and suburbs.