Proudly 100% Australian family owned & operated
Top Citrus Pty Ltd is owned and operated by Murray & Averial Benham, with their son Matthew, his wife Rachael and their 2 daughters Ayla & Zoey.
Murray was born into citrus at the family property Benyenda and has spent his life continuing the family legacy. Whilst humble by nature, His knowledge, and experience in the Citrus Industry is paramount to the family operation and well respected by many.
When Averial married Murray she bought with her a work ethic that is hard to rival, and for many years has worked hard to build a successful business and ensure the fruit packed through the packing shed is held to the highest standard.
Matthew grew up much the same as Murray, developing a passion for citrus that runs to his very core. After graduating University with a Diploma in Horticulture, Matthew returned home to take on the business alongside his parents. He continues to pave himself a path using all he has learnt from his parents, and then some. In March 2023 Matt was awarded the “Emerging Leader” Award by Citrus Australia for recognition of his contribution to the Australian Citrus Industry.
Rachael joined the family business a few years after graduating from University with Matthew (with a Degree in Animal Science, go figure!) and strives to learn everything she doesn’t know about citrus – growing up with a livestock background before making a literal “tree-change”
The youngest members of the team, Ayla & Zoey, follow in their grandfather & fathers footsteps growing up on the family farm as 5th generation citrus growers. Whilst Zoey is generally happy to take the role of QA taste tester/consumer of all things orange grown on site, Ayla strives to run her own packing shed one day soon – she is 7!
Orchards: Top Citrus, Riverton, Feldmans
Top Citrus Orchard
The Top Citrus orchard sits the furtherest from the packing shed at Benyenda, at a mere 7km. Established in the mid 1980s by Murray and Averial, the 55ha orchard is atypical in that is sits on a red ridge some 5kms from its water source, the Burnett River. A wide range of citrus fruit is grown on this site, as well as a small crop of Mangoes.
Top Citrus orchard is perhaps the most challenging site of the 3, with the different soil type, rock shelves that hold water (citrus trees don’t like wet feet), and the prevalence of wind damage compared to Riverton & Feldmans orchards. Over the years, Murray and Matthew have enjoyed the freedom to trial a wide range of management practices here. Biological fertilisers, ferments, compost teas, compost type processes, automated irrigation, new variety trials, all in a bid to maximise soil health and sustainability. They believe soil health is the key to growing quality fruit with great taste, high yields, and best quality, and their investment in these practices is vital to our long-term viability.
Top Citrus Varieties
Mandarins: Imperial, Royal Honey Murcott, Low Seed Murcott, Honey Murcott, Mid-Season
Grapefruit: Star Ruby
Mangoes: Kensington pride
The Riverton orchard was the only neighbouring orchard to the 3 orchards owned by the Benham families. Owned by 3rd generation citrus growers, in 2017 when it was put up for sale, Murray, Averial, Matthew and Rachael purchased the combined orchard/grazing land. An additional 55ha of orchard meant a considerable expansion for a small family operation. Matthews’ familiarity with the orchard, having spent many many hours “talking shop” and driving the rows meant an easy transition.
Riverton lies on the banks of the Burnett River, not as flat as the other orchards but rather characteristic in its undulating terrain. Many practices used at Top Citrus have been adopted at Riverton, though cater to the different needs in relation to soil types.
Mandarins: Imperial, Low Seed Murcott, Honey Murcott, Mid-Season
Feldmans Orchard is the baby of the orchards, established in the 1990s by family relatives. In 2019 the opportunity arose to purchase Feldmans’ so Murray, Averial, Matthew & Rachael took the chance. An additional 30ha of citrus, located right between Riverton & Benyenda orchards on the banks of the Burnett River, the orchard was renamed for a historical owner who once used the site for a dairy farm. The benefits of being a younger orchard meant a number of advantages in terms of layout and management. Like Top Citrus, irrigation is automated, and a central road takes you right through the orchard without the need to weave between blocks of trees.
Mandarins: Imperial, Low Seed Murcott, Honey Murcott, Late Imperial
The trio of orchards owned by Top Citrus Pty Ltd are managed with soil health and fruit quality paramount. Though managed together, each orchard has individualised fertiliser and spray programs that are led by soil and leaf test results, and pest incursions if/when they arise. We utilise the services of local, knowledgeable industry consultants that have been a part of our “team” for a number of years.
Farming For Our Future
We hold a strong belief that ultimately our soil is our future, how we treat our soil now is how it will treat us well into the future. Nourished, healthy soil is the key to long term sustainability.
Healthy soil = healthier trees = better quality & quantity of fruit
Better quality fruit = better tasting fruit = happy consumers
“We work closely with industry consultants to enhance our best practice strategies used on farm and a key contributor to our soil health management has been Ag Plus Consultancy.”
“Our mission is to provide the best farm products and support to optimise farm production sustainably. Trust and building long terms relationships is a core foundation of Ag Plus Consultancy. The Benham family of Benyenda Citrus & Top Citrus were one of the original clients having work with Ag-Plus since 2005. The Benham family were ahead of their time back then looking at ways to improve soil health and tree health in a sustainable way which has been adopted by the next generation Matthew & Rachael. Ag-Plus has enjoyed the journey in this long-standing relationship.” Tim O’Dea
A large portion of our waste fruit is returned to our orchard in the form of XLR8 Bio & Humisoil which we make on farm using VRM Biologik’s patented technology. We have worked with VRM Biologik for the last 8 years to utilise their processes on farm with some great benefits. If you scroll to the bottom of the VRM Biologik site you can also see Matthew talk about our journey!
Interrow cropping is a new practice implemented just in the last 12 months. Mixed species plantings in between the rows of citrus trees to benefit soil health. To the untrained eye it looks messy and unkempt by traditional orchard standards, but to the soil underneath it’s a health retreat.
Plant material that we prune/hedge from the trees, or slashed in the rows, is mulched and thrown back under the canopy to form a carpet of mulch that provides a home for mycorrizal fungi growth which aids in delivering nutrients for plant growth.
In the last 18 months we have implemented an addition to our regular fertigation and foliar spray programs in the form of PryoAg Wood Vinegar with promising results. Jump over to the website to read in detail the benefits of using it. Glenn at One Earth works closely with the QLD customers and is more than happy to answer any questions.
We are constantly mindful of practices that can help us work better with our soil for the greatest outputs with some exciting ideas in the pipeline for our future.