Citrus

The Leeton Shire is home to over 8,500 hectares of citrus farms, which grow approximately 180,000 tonnes of citrus produce ever year. In fact, the Riverina region is responsible for about 30% of Australia’s total citrus production!

One of Australia’s best known produce companies, The Daily Drinks Co, is based in Leeton to be near its producers. Valencia oranges are the most common crops in the region, although navel oranges are growing in popularity, and lemons, grapefruit and mandarins are also grown in quantity.

Quickly gaining favour for both cooking and eating are red blood oranges, with the country’s largest farm located in nearby Griffith. Leeton is also famous for cross-pollinating the first brown navel oranges in Australia, known as Dolci Navels.

Rice

Leeton’s temperate Mediterranean climate and clay soils are perfect for growing a number of food crops, but especially rice and citrus crops. Since its first tentative crops in 1924, the rice industry at Leeton has burgeoned into a major source of income for the region due to its innovative growing and processing initiatives, which make it the most efficient in Australia.

Leeton is the headquarters of SunRice, the international brand of Ricegrowers Limited. A business owned by over 2,000 Australian rice growers, SunRice is the fifth largest rice food company in the world, producing a huge range of rice foodproducts. It is also Australia’s largest exporter of processed food products with eighty percent of its product exported to more than 60 countries, and is rightly recognised around the world for the high quality of all its products.

Rice farmer Peter Randall started experimenting with organic farming principles on his property in Murrami in 1989. Peter’s dream of his own organic rice business was realised when Randall Organic Rice was launched in 2011. He built a small mill and sold his first bags of organic rice 22 years after first adopting organic principles.

Southern Cotton Gin

Photo Credit: Nathan Dyer
Photo Credit: Nathan Dyer
Photo Credit: Nathan Dyer

Alongside its reputation as the food bowl of Australia, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) also helps to put the cotton shirt on Australia’s back. The region is a major producer of cotton, with over 100 local growers producing some of the finest cotton in the world using world leading irrigation technology.

Australia exports over 90% of its cotton crop every year, particularly to Asian markets who value our cotton for its colour, strength, fibre length and lack of contamination because of our high-tech production practices. The MIA produces roughly 20% of Australia’s cotton.

While Australia produces only about three per cent of the global cotton crop, our cotton is regarded as among the best in the world. In a typical year, Australia’s cotton growers produce enough cotton to clothe 500 million people.  With reliable water supplies from the MIA, and with innovative cropping, irrigation and seed technology, the local cotton industry has boomed as more farmers ‘cotton on’ to the benefits of cotton farming.

The local crop has more than doubled from 18,000 hectares in 2011 to 44,000 hectares in 2016. It is a summer crop — that is, it is planted in spring (mid- September through to the end of November) and harvested in the autumn (early March through to late May).

In 2011, the village of Whitton was the site for the development of a new local cotton business, Southern Cotton, and its gin. Opened in 2012, it is an independently owned ginning facility that has processed more than 900,000 bales to date, and is a major employer in the region. Now up to 100 local growers use the gin to process their crops.

Take a spin around the Gin

Southern Cotton's informative and engaging tours are designed to educate growers, tourists, students and other visitors about the local cotton industry, as well as the cotton ginning process. From when the bales are brought in, cleaned and packed ready to ship out, Southern Cotton's specially-built observation walkways allow visitors to witness these stages first-hand in a safe environment. You could also see our two enormous yellow moon buggies in action! Our gin tours are available at 11am on weekdays during ginning season. Advanced bookings are encouraged, or by appointment for large groups. Ph. 02 6955 2755 


Cost: Gold coin donation per person.

Walnuts

The Leeton district boasts about 240,000 walnut trees, planted in orchards covering 765 hectares. Every year they provide about 4,000 tonnes of walnuts, which are processed locally in Leeton.

Walnut trees can grow to 25 metres in height and can live as long as 200 years. They require a Mediterranean climate, but that should also include a chilling period of 600-800 hours below 10°C. That makes Leeton an ideal area for growing walnuts!

The largest commercial producer of quality walnuts in this country is Webster Limited, based in Leeton. The company is a vertically integrated operation that reaches from the tree nursery right through to marketing walnuts and walnut products to the Australian and international markets.

Webster Limited is responsible for producing about 90% of the Australian walnut crop. The company recently built a walnut cracking and processing facility in Leeton, so it has the capability to supply a comprehensive line of fresh in-shell and walnut kernel products. It is a prominent employer in the Leeton district.