The smell of success
A family-run durian orchard in Nakhon Nayok has set itself apart by growing species of the fruit unavailable anywhere else
Published: 19/06/2010 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
When it comes to durian the "King of Thai Fruits", common species like chanee and monthong dominate the market.
Many durians can grow on a single branch providing the tree is in fertile soil and the season has favourable weather.
But one orchard in Nakhon Nayok has set itself apart from other producers by growing some of the rarest durian species which were nearly lost forever to natural disasters.
At the Suan La-ong Fa (Sky Mist Orchard) in tambon Khao Phra of Nakhon Nayok's Muang district, over 50 species of the popular fruit, some with names completely unknown to most Thais, can be found. The orchard has, against virtually impossible odds, managed to preserve some near-extinct durian.
Second-generation owner Chatri Sowantrakul said the story of his orchard began in 1942 when his father, Chom, quit his job at the Royal Forest Department after his wife's death to start a durian garden in Thon Buri district.
His father developed an interest in durians after years of staying with his mother who made a living growing old species of durian in Uttaradit.
He invested a lot of time and energy to improve the species of the fruit in his orchard and the hard work paid off.
But in 1942, durian's worst natural enemy struck - flooding. A major inundation wiped out Chom's orchard. Nothing was left, not even durian seeds, Mr Chatri recalled.
The family was forced to start from scratch in rebuilding the orchard. Chom began collecting durian species by buying from orchards in Nonthaburi.
Mr Chatri said his father also picked up some seeds from the rubbish thrown away by rich families in Sampheng and Yaowarat areas.
As 200 new durian trees sprang up in the orchard, new problems emerged. Sea water intrusion had killed off many durian trees, and with the rapid urban expansion, Thon Buri was no longer suitable for growing the fruit.
Chom had no choice but to search for a new place to grow his durian and finally found an ideal place in a valley known as Ban Hup Khao in Nakhon Nayok.