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Jujubes in bloom at Akuna Road, Parkes

AFTER months of effort and toil, the Currajong jujubes at Akuna Road are almost ready with picking expected to begin in March.

For Currajong’s Wayde Kriedemann, who manages the farm with jujubes and carobs, the picking will begin in roughly six weeks and wrap in April pending the quantity of jujubes.

“We distribute as we pick them,” said Wayde.

“Our biggest customer last year were the Sydney markets and naturally there is interest again.

“The jujubes really proved to be a hit,’ he said.

Last year the jujubes sold extremely well and there was high demand. Wayde anticipates this year will be the same.

“It’s the second time we’ve been through this process now,” he said.

“We have learnt a lot from 2019 and that will hold us in good stead for this season.

“And once it’s done we will repeat the cycle again for 2021,” he said.

Ziziphus jujuba commonly called jujube, red date, Chinese date, is a species of Ziziphus in the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae).

According to Wikipedia, the jujube was domesticated in south Asia by 9000 BC. Over 400 cultivars have been selected.

The tree tolerates a wide range of temperatures and rainfall, though it requires hot summers and sufficient water for acceptable fruiting. Unlike most of the other species in the genus, it tolerates fairly cold winters, surviving temperatures down to about −15 °C (5 °F) and the tree is for instance commonly cultivated in Beijing. This enables the jujube to grow in mountain or desert habitats, provided there is access to underground water throughout the summer. The jujube, Z. jujuba grows in cooler regions of Asia. Five or more other species of Ziziphus are widely distributed in milder climates to hot deserts of Asia and Africa.

In Madagascar, jujube trees grow extensively in the western half of the island, from the north all the way to the south. It is widely eaten by free-ranging zebus, and its seeds grow easily in zebu feces. It is an invasive species there, threatening mostly protected areas.

The freshly harvested, as well as the candied dried fruit, are often eaten as a snack, or with coffee. Most countries around the world have a use for jujubes from smoked jujubes in Vietnam to alcoholic jujubes in China. They are incredibly popular in Asian countries and serve many uses.

In Australia, on the surface it appears the humble jujube is more of a new novelty, something Wayde thinks is slowly changing.

“They are becoming more and more popular as people discover the range of uses for them,” he said.

“I have no doubt their popularity will continue to grow.

“Jujubes are a versatile and healthy snack and people are starting to realise that.”