6 July, 2023
Dario Pulsoni was born to grow apples. His father Sabatino (Sammy) grew fruit in Italy in the 1940s. When Sammy immigrated to Australia in 1952 he started working on the railways but the lure of growing proved too much. Within four years Sammy had bought his own modest 15-acre farm and planted apples. “Growing was in his nature,” says Dario. “That’s what he knew how to do and that’s what he enjoyed doing.”
So more than half a century later, when the opportunity arose to trial a new type of apple – an apple that was developed in Italy, no less – Dario knew he had to be a part of it. Modi® apples are a crisp red, medium-sized apple with a firm skin and, according to Dario, everyone who tries them comes back for more. “People love them because of the flavour. They’re very sweet and juicy, and they’re very crunchy,” he says. “While a Pink Lady is nice and sweet, it has that little bit of a tart aftertaste. A Modi® doesn’t have that tart aftertaste.”
Dario is one of a handful of growers producing Modi® apples for Coles and his farm, Pulsoni Orchards, is located in a great part of Australia for growing fruit. “The Goulburn Valley in Victoria is one of the best places to grow apples. We have the best sunlight here, which gives you the sugars, which gives you the sweetest fruit,” he explains. “More sunlight also gives you a thinner skin on your fruit.”
Dario also grows stone fruit on his orchard but it was Modi® apples that gave him the chance to diversify his risk with a hardy and resilient crop. “Modi® apples don’t take as much looking after as other apples because they're a disease-resistant variety”, he says. They can also tolerate hotter, dryer climates so can get by on less water if need be.
With anything new, the first couple of years are always the hardest but Dario thinks Modi® apples are well and truly here to stay now. “The first few years were a bit of a teething time but we’ve been doing Modi® for about six years now and we’ve ironed out the things that we know work and don’t work and what we need to do to achieve best results,” he says.
The biggest challenge he says, though, is getting Aussies to sample the new fruit, which is one of the reasons Dario has been so thankful to have the support of Coles. “Modi® apples are exclusive to Coles,” he says. “They backed it and they helped us promote Modi® apples to customers”.
There are plenty of things Dario loves about his job. Just like his dad, he always wanted a life on the land: “I love being outdoors and enjoy being my own boss,’ he says. “I enjoy growing fruit – always have – it’s just one of those things that’s in your blood.”