Agdex No: 238/10
ISSN No: 0157-8243
2. Growing and Marketing
T. K. Lim, formerly Horticulture Division, Darwin
The planting distance commonly employed in northern Australia is a 10-12 x 10-12 m square or
a triangle. A permanent natural windbreak needs to be established before crop establishment
because of the strong winds experienced in the growing areas. Attributes of a good natural
(a) vigorous growth with a non-spreading
(b) good durable lower limbs and
(c) resistance to termites and root
(d) not an alternate host for pests and
diseases of the main crop and
(e) amenable to hedging, topping and root
pruning. Durian requires some light
shading (dried palm fronds or synthetic
fabric) during the first two years after
field establishment especially around
When the tree is 2-4 years old, some pruning of straight vertical and criss-cross tangling
branches is carried out to open up the canopy. On mature bearing trees no pruning is carried
out. Trials are in progress in Darwin on flower and fruit thinning. The aim is to have fruits evenly
on a branch to obviate limb breakage because of overloading and to have uniformity in fruit
size, shape and quality.
In the dry monsoonal environment of the Top End water shortage can play a critical role. Durian
is extremely sensitive to drought stress from the seedling to the mature, bearing stage but
varieties differ in drought susceptibility.
Durian is a shallow rooted tree with 60% of the total root length confined within 60 cm of the
crown and 0-30 cm from the soil surface. Very little is known about the crop water requirement
of the durian, tentative recommendation is to apply rates of up to 2,000 L/tree/week for trees
with 4 m canopy during September to November and lower rates during other months. Mulching
trees can also help to conserve soil moisture.
Since durian is planted on poor soils around Darwin fertilisation is paramount to successful crop
establishment. However, very little is understood about durian nutrient demand and fertiliser
rates used by growers are ad-hoc and subjective. Currently 3 basal fertiliser applications are
employed by growers, with rates increasing with age of tree. In the Northern territory, a young
seedling receives 4 applications of N:P2O5:K2O =15:15:15 fertiliser mixture. Trees after 4 years
are given 3 applications in January/February, just after harvest; in May/June just before
flowering and in September/October during fruit development.
PESTS AND DISEASES
In the Northern Territory, green ants Oecophylla smaragdina and mealy bugs deform and dry up
flower buds and deform developing fruits while meat ants Iridomyrmex sp. devour flowers. Minor
insect pests include Rhyparida beetles which damage young foliage and red banded thrips and
mites on developing fruits.
For tropical fruit trees in general, the Entomology Section recommends the use of the following
chemicals for the pests listed. Growers are advised to contact Entomology Section for more
detailed information and other pest problems.
fruit fly dimethioate
flower caterpillars Bacillus thuringensis
red banded thrips dimethioate, endosulfan
swarming beetles endosulfan
mealy bugs malathion, petoleum oil
borers carbaryl dust, malathion
broad mites sulphur, dicolfol
two spotted mites fenbutin oxide
These chemicals are sold under several brand names and are available from rural suppliers.
Follow the directions on the container when using them.
In the Northern Territory stem lesions around wounds have been associated with Phomopsis
and Lasiodiplodia theobromae. A Phytophthora sp. was isolated from a dead tree at Howard
Springs. A minor disease observed around Darwin is leaf spot caused by the alga, Cephaleuros
HARVESTING AND POSTHARVEST HANDLING
Most growers pick ripe fruits when they drop from the tree. Such fruits have a very short shelf
live of 2-3 days. To reduce the impact of the fall, tarpaulins or nets can be erected below the
tree during the ripening months to reduce fruit damage. Storing intact fallen ripe fruits at 5 to
10°C can extend the shelf-life by 1-2 days. Selective harvest before the fruit is ripe as is
practised in Thailand, is the preferred way as the fruit will have a longer shelf life, but this needs
skill and experience. Thai growers used a combination of harvesting indices in selective
harvesting and these include the number of days from full bloom, colour, elasticity and
disposition of the spines, intensity of the odour emitted, the sound heard when the fingertips are
run through the furrows between the spines, changes in fruit stalks and water flotation tests.
More investigations are needed in this area of harvesting indices for durian in northern Australia.
Harvested fruit should be stored at 15°C which will extend their shelf life to 3 weeks and quick
frozen fresh fruit retains its flavour for more than 3 months. More work on packaging of fresh
durian is needed to eliminate the odour during long distance transport of the fruit.
MARKET STATUS AND POTENTIAL
No accurate estimate of the present production or sale figure is available because of the
meagre size and the embryonic stage of the industry in Australia. However, based on prices
ranging from $8-12/kg received by growers in Queensland and the Northern Territory, the
potential of the industry is bright. Assuming an orchard with a 100 trees/ha having an average
yield of 30 fruits/tree at year 10 and a farm price of $10/kg with an average fruit weighing 2 kg -
a gross return of $60,000/ha can be realised. One grower in the NT harvested about 12 fruits
from a five year old grafted tree. In Thailand and Malaysia average yields reported are around
10-18 tons/ha with 50 fruits per tree and each fruit weighing 1.5 to 4 kg.
Main consumer demand lies with the ethnic Asian population, especially from Southeast Asia
and Hong Kong. There is also an appreciable ethnic European demand. The domestic market
can absorb production from 100 ha. Most connoisseurs prefer fresh fruit, but frozen products
are possibly also acceptable. Currently, import of frozen fruit in slices or whole fruit comes from
Thailand. The export potential for durian is good, as production in northern Australia can fill the
market window from January to April (late December to early February in the Northern Territory
and February to April in north Queensland). Recently, Japan started importing durian from
Malaysia and Thailand in the form of excised flesh, minus the thorny skin, packed in sealed
polythene punnets. This form of packaging alleviates the offensive smell, keeps produce fresh,
and poses no problem with airline transportation. Taiwan imports huge quantities from Thailand.
The vast market potential in China, and South Korea has not been tapped.
Please visit us on our website at www.primaryindustry.nt.gov.au
While all care has been taken to ensure that information contained in this Agnote is true and correct at the time
of publication, the Northern Territory of Australia gives no warranty or assurance, and makes no representation
as to the accuracy of any information or advice contained in this publication, or that it is suitable for your
intended use. No serious, business or investment decisions should be made in reliance on this information
without obtaining independent/or professional advice in relation to your particular situation.