Durian is an evergreen, tropical native tree of Southeast Asia and thrives in a hot, humid tropical climate. Originally thought to have come from the Indonesian Malay archipelago, with Borneo a major centre of origin, it is now extensively cultivated in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. Durian trees can grow to 20m tall with a diameter of 8–10m within 15–20 years.
While currently a small exotic tropical fruit industry in northern Queensland and the Northern Territory, it is thought that durian has potential to be developed into a viable fruit crop in northern Australia, to satisfy domestic demand for fresh fruit.
The Australian industry faces many challenges. Major problems include highly variable production dependent on seasonal conditions, tree and fruit disease management, and identification of internal fruit quality.
Production is estimated at around 60 tonnes with an estimated gross value of AU$480,000. However, cyclones Larry (2006) and Yasi (2011) destroyed many durian trees in north Queensland requiring a restocking of tree crops.
Durian was introduced into tropical north Queensland in the 1970s but is regarded as a developing industry, and its interests are represented by the Rare Fruits Association and the Sub-tropical Fruit Club of Queensland.
Facts and figures
- Durian, known as the King of Fruits, is the most highly prized fruit in Southeast Asia
- It is not as popular in Western cuisine due to its distinctive odour
- Durian is grown in north Queensland and the Northern Territory
- Production is estimated at around 60 tonnes with an estimated gross value of AU$480,000
- Many trees were destroyed by Cyclones Larry (2006) and Yasi (2011)
- Durian has the potential to be developed into a viable specialist small holder crop for northern Australia
Commercial growing of durian fruit commenced in the Northern Territory and north Queensland in the 1970s. Over 60% of durian production occurs in the Northern Territory, with Queensland accounting for the remainder.
Before Cyclone Larry in early 2006, there were 36 durian growers in Australia with around 13,000 trees. The cyclone inflicted widespread damage and although there have been re-plantings, there were only around 5,000 durian trees in Australia in 2011–12.
Based on tree numbers and average yields, durian production in Australia in is estimated at around 60 tonnes, with an estimated gross value of AU$480,000.
There were small quantities of Australian exports of durian in the past but almost none in the 2000s. There are larger quantities of imports, all provided by Thailand and Malaysia. Market access for frozen durian was granted to Thailand and Malaysia in 1999 and 2004, respectively, after import risk assessments.