Dreem Fruit – Delecta’s Stone Fruit Producer of the Year 2019
Every year, Delecta takes pleasure in acknowledging its top producers in each fruit category. The decisions are based on the quality of fruit, accuracy of harvest estimate and innovation on varietal development by the particular producer over the season.
Leonard Droomer of Dreem Fruit was crowned our Stone Fruit Producer of the Year for 2019. Since the Droomer family purchased Rouzelle farm in the Breede River Valley thirteen years ago, they’ve introduced stone fruit and lessened their reliance on the wine grapes for which the region is famous.
Says Erietha Nel, Delecta’s Stone Fruit Category Manager: “It is a pleasure awarding a producer like Dreem fruit with Delecta’s Stone fruit producer of the year award. As exporter and producer we share the same enthusiasm for the opportunities that the fruit industry has to offer. We are excited and we look forward to the innovation and varietal development Leonard and his team at Dreem fruit are investing in.”
Our team recently caught up with Leonard to find out more about his secret to success and love for innovation in the highly competitive fruit industry.
Give us a little background of Dreem Fruit and where it all started
Dreem Fruit started in 2016 when we realised that we need to have a brand associated with the fruit produced on our farm. We were originally a wine grape farm, and since 2009 our focus started to shift towards stone fruit. The actual name “Dreem” comes from our surname “Droomer”: droom + dreem.
What philosophy do you base your farming operation on?
Our philosophy is to always remain relevant. We try to achieve this by continuously exploring new cultivars, packing materials and production techniques. Secondly, you have to be very flexible and fluid. We are continuously seeing major shifts in international, as well as local markets. Cultivars and fruit types are changing, as is the weather. For this reason, we pay special attention to our risk profile.
You were recognised as the ‘Stone Fruit Producer of the Year’ by Delecta in 2019. What would you say are the key contributing factors to your success?
Firstly, we understand their marketing philosophy, so we have a very transparent relationship. We need to align with a company that is open to ideas, and then be able to explore opportunities knowing that we can work together. We have been working with Delecta for about 6 years, and a key factor to our successful relationship has been the willingness of both parties to openly share knowledge.
Tell us more about the fruit you grow on your farm?
We have undergone an aggressive expansion project into stone fruit, particularly niche varieties, and are currently 34% stone fruit and 66% wine grapes. All our export fruit is delivered through Delecta, and we do our own local marketing. All our wine grapes go to Mountain Ridge Wines.
We have focused on mostly newer cultivars and are developing different ranges. We currently have yellow clings, white flesh nectarines, yellow flesh nectarines, flat peaches, and yellow skin nectarines. We are in the process of removing all our plums as we will be planting our first soft citrus next year, with the aim of diversifying risk.
Fruit varieties include: Boreal, Tiffany, Nectagolds, Garcica, Autumn Crunch.
Any exciting developments in the pipeline?
As mentioned, we want to diversify a bit into citrus. We will then have 3 crop types: wine grapes, stone fruit and citrus. We feel that this is beneficial from a risk profile perspective. The climate is becoming more unpredictable, making it vital to spread a farm’s risk through a completely new crop, with different flowering and harvest times.
Secondly, we are planning on upgrading our pack shed over the next 3 seasons. We aim to be a compact shed that packs 11 months of the year.
What advice would you give less experienced, or even new, fruit farmers?
My advice would be that you need to make sure you are aligned with the right companies! Our rule of thumb is: align yourself with producer owned companies as they understand the farmers’ needs better.
Secondly, test before your plant, and don’t be scared to pay for the right advice.
Lastly, remain relevant. Cultivars are changing fast! Make sure you subscribe to all the breeder’s newsletters and attend the field days.