Australian prune growers shooting for success

When working and making a living off the land, there is a lot of room for something to go wrong. 

It’s a story Ann Furner and her husband Anthony Nehme know all too well. In 2017, the prune producers lost a portion of their crop because of a lack of drying space. 

To avoid the same mistake this year, they’ve decided to take matters into their own hands. 

In an Australian first, the couple have utilised Swiss technology to invest in environmentally friendly solar drying technology that will help safeguard their harvested crop. 

“We are at the mercy of dehydrators to dry our fruit in a timely manner before it spoils,” she said.

“That year there was a huge crop in the Griffith area, but dehydrators were at their capacity and a lot of fruit remained unpicked and dropped to the ground.`

“It’s such a waste when you have spent all year preparing for harvest, and something Anthony and I didn’t want to experience again.”


Traditionally, prunes are dried in gas-fired tunnels, which require around-the-clock monitoring and experience to operate correctly.

 “We have three young children, I work full time, and Ann is busy with the farm and her IDO role, so we didn’t see gas as a viable option for us,” Mr Nehme said. 

“In Australia, dehydration is by far the biggest cost in the production of prunes,” she said.

Ms Furner began looking for alternatives. She began corresponding with 

Sébastien Jacot-Descombes, CEO of Jacot, Des Combes SA, the company responsible for solar tunnels.

The couple have ordered 12 CK2 Natural Solar Drying tunnels to be used on February’s harvest. 

“Rising energy prices are a huge concern for the industry, and we have been looking at alternatives to help address this,” Ms Furner said.