Foundation Member Spotlight

An industry “luminary” once made a comment that every production nursery owner went to bed dreaming, they’d wake up a citrus grower.

The ill aimed point of the comment, being that citrus trees are profitable, and in constant demand?

Apparently being a citrus grower was like having a genetic superpower a happenstance rather than years of well-orchestrated business decisions and planning. In reality, the life of a Citrus grower is as challenging, hair pulling, demanding and rewarding, as that of any plant producer.

Citrus have a story, citrus have a legacy, citrus cross cultures, citrus have a value to the consumer. That is the good fortune of growing citrus, and this story telling, production efficiencies, networking, and lifelong learnings are at the core of the continuing success of Eyles Citrus. They don’t just sell citrus, they sell a story.

It’s over 100 years that the Eyles family have been producing citrus trees. A lot has changed from those early days of lifting the citrus trees from the heavy soil, hand wrapping and shipping boxfuls of the trees to orchardist and retailers across the states and borders.

Lighter mediums, more nimble production, budding techniques, technologies, infrastructure, all modern-day advances that have benefited business, and are seen across the Australian plant production industries, refining and improving production measurably.

Getting out of the nursery and seeing what other people are doing is a huge clue to the success of Eyles Citrus. Without fail, and even in this year of COVID (before lockdown), Gary Eyles travels the globe to engage with the citrus industry. A foundation member of the international society of Citrus Nurseryman (ISCN) and president past, Gary has adopted and adapted, gleaned, and learned. Small or large, a positive change, tweak to system or improvement is a forward motion, and a progression of business.

His knowledge and learnings made available and shared generously as those who know Gary would endorse.

Gary is a keen and supporting board member of AUSCITRUS, the Australian budwood virus indexing program and tree repository. The protection of the Australian citrus industry has never been of more importance in these current times, as disease and infestation threaten not just our commercial production, but the wholesale and retail sector also.

Marketing, branding and communicating directly to the consumer, with relevant product, appropriate messaging and labelling has seen demand for the Eyles product increase exponentially over the last 10 to 15 years. As Gary is often heard to say, " we sell the sizzle not the sausage".

Introducing the Pipsqueak range of dwarf citrus, the double graft Citrus Splitzer, and hooking in early to the trend for Australian native citrus with the Citrus Gems range of finger limes and CSIRO varieties, is both testament to the foresight and visionary thinking of Gary Eyles, and his willingness to invest and have a red hot go at something.

The opportunities for producing citrus is boundless, as the Eyles enterprise increases in size, staff and production, new ranges and product fill an insatiable demand, new opportunities for selling and marketing plants are as exciting as any of the past peaks of interest in our “green” product. Yes, for beautifully grown and presented citrus however the opportunity is there for all producers.

Eyles Citrus produce a desirable product, the sausage, it’s the hard work, the investment, the network, the creativity, the gutsiness, making decisions that ultimately result in a successful and thriving business. It’s not just citrus, it’s attitude. It’s the citrus sizzle.