From work into new grape varieties and new rootstocks, to the production of guidelines for the consistent production of light-coloured, high-quality fruit, Hort Innovation has continued to invest the dried grape R&D levy in a number of key projects. Read more in the R&D snapshot below. To discover the latest levy-funded marketing activity, head to the marketing snapshot.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

After you’ve read about the dried grape industry’s current levy investments and outcomes in this edition of Hortlink, check out Hort Innovation’s dried grape grower page. The grower page remains your one-stop-shop for industry information, including:

  • Important updates regarding the dried grape Strategic Investment Plan (SIP), as available. Developed in close consultation with growers and other industry stakeholders, the SIP is a document outlining the priorities for strategic investment in the industry. It is to be used like a ‘roadmap’ by the dried grape Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest updates regarding the dried grape SIAP, including details on the panel’s recently appointed chair, Alison Kelly, and summaries from all SIAP meetings to date. The SIAP last met in August 2016 and is due to meet again in April/May this year.
  • The 2015/16 dried grape industry annual report, detailing activities from the previous financial year.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the dried grape industry.

Any questions?

As well as the dried grape grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Management Lead Will Gordon is always available to answer questions on the dried grape program on 0427 920 924 or at will.gordon@horticulture.com.au.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Producing high value dried grapes stage 2 (DG13006)

Status: Completed project

What’s was it all about? The Producing high value dried grapes project was established to develop best-practice management information, to enable Australian dried grape growers to consistently produce high-quality and high-value light-coloured dried fruit. This second-stage of the project concluded late in 2016 and resulted in the production of:

  • An updated three-part Dried Grape Best Practice Guide for growers, with clear recommendations for the production of high-quality, light-coloured fruit. Download Part 1: Pre-harvest and Harvest Guide here, Part 2: Post-harvest to Winter here, and Part 3: Spring to Pre-harvest here
  • A literature review, Producing High Value Dried Grapes, available to download here.

This second stage of the project also involved on-farm trials that set out to develop improved trellis drying management systems to maximise the exposure of drying grapes to higher daytime temperatures for longer, while minimising the impact of weather. They included the use of potassium sprays to advance maturity of dried grapes; the impact of drying emulsion strength on drying time; and the impact of vineyard floor management on drying conditions. Unfortunately, the weather for both the 2014/15 and 2015/16 drying and harvest periods was not considered ‘average’ for the industry, preventing the rationale behind the field trials from being fully tested.

Full details can be found in the project’s final report, available to order at www.horticulture.com.au/about/resources-publications-final-reports. Final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies.


Dried Grape Best Practice Guides

The Dried Grape Best Practice Guide series, produced under project DG13006


 Evaluation of dried and table grapes varieties (MT15026)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this multi-industry project will deliver new grape varieties for both the dried grape and table grape industries. For dried grapes it will deliver new, consistently high yielding, rain-tolerant varieties targeted to produce a premium light-coloured, globally differentiated product to enhance value.

What’s the latest update? For dried grapes, recent work in the project has included the establishment of 30 dried grape selections, grafted onto Ramsey rootstocks across multiple plots at CSIRO’s facility in Irymple, Victoria. Establishment of these selections will enable evaluation to be conducted under near-commercial conditions, with management on appropriate large trellis systems, to identify selections most suited to industry requirements. Promising selections will ultimately be included in future regional and semi-commercial test sites.

There has also been establishment of four highly promising dried grape selections on a semi-commercial test site. Using the top-working approach, these selections were grafted onto existing Ramsey and 1103 Paulsen rootstock on a commercial property, and will enable evaluation of yield consistency, rain tolerance, product quality and more under commercial conditions. This work will also supply sufficient volumes of dried fruit for potential test processing and storage studies.

New rootstocks to improve production and water use efficiency, sustainability and reduce risks of dried grape production (DG12006)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Rootstocks are an important tool to reduce production risks associated with climate variability, salinity and soil-borne pests. Running since 2013, this project aims to deliver new high-yielding, water-use-efficient and drought-tolerant rootstocks. It is also investigating integrated strategies involving high-density plantings and rootstock choice to optimise productivity and water-use efficiency in the dried grape industry.

What’s the latest update? After analysis of data from the 2016 season of trials, four new rootstock selections have been identified with potential for release to industry. These rootstocks have shown strong performance across scion and irrigation trials, with the potential to maintain high productivity under limited water supply. These rootstocks are now being assessed in trials to establish distinctness, uniformity and stability.

Analysis of the 2016 data has also been combined with data from previous seasons to assess the longer-term performance of new rootstock selections.

Other trials the project continues to maintain include:

  • Carina, Sultana and Sunmuscat trials, with the varieties grafted onto 11 new rootstock genotypes and three commercial rootstocks and being managed with two irrigation treatments (a standard control of 5.6ML/ha and a deficit treatment of 2.5ML/ha). These were expected to produce some crop in the 2017 season.
  • High-density rootstock trials established on a commercial property, with Carina and Sunmuscat.
  • A long-term Sunmuscat trial, with the variety grafted on 104 rootstock genotypes.
Dried grape industry development project stage 2 (DG13001)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Designed to build capacity and knowledge in the dried grape industry, this project aims to:

  • Facilitate the adoption of best-practice production systems and technologies in the industry, in turn supporting growers in lifting crop yields, lowering costs and improving fruit quality
  • Ensure the latest R&D results and other relevant management information is extended to growers and other stakeholders, to enhance the industry’s skills base
  • Support industry projects related to the evaluation and development of new dried grape varieties, to ultimately enable production of a high-value, differentiated product under a range of conditions.

What’s the latest update? Previously this project supported the role of an industry development officer (IDO) for the dried grape industry, and was due for completion at the end of 2016. Instead, it has been extended until the end of 2017 and will now support a new field officer role to continue on industry development activities and functions.

Throughout the year, among other duties the field officer will be responsible for:

  • Conducting field walks, grower forums, a seasonal review with growers, training workshops and other events to extend knowledge and provide face-to-face information and advice
  • Maintaining regular communication with growers and other industry stakeholders
  • Supplying industry information, alerts, R&D updates and the like through articles prepared for industry e-newsletters and The Vine magazine
  • Developing factsheets on relevant topics
  • Providing ongoing support for relevant on-farm trials, as well as assisting the work in project Evaluation of dried and table grapes varieties (MT15026).
Australian dried fruit communications program (MT15031)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Established in 2016, this project continues to maintain and improve communication to Australian dried fruit growers and other industry stakeholders. By keeping the industry up-to-date on R&D, news, events and other critical information, its ultimate goal is to facilitate the uptake of R&D by the industry and support decision-making in dried fruit businesses.

This project is a multi-industry project. Carried out for the benefit of more than one levy industry, it has funding from a combination of industries along with Australian Government contributions.

What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:

  • Quarterly magazine The Vine (a joint magazine between the dried fruit and table grape industries)
  • The Dried Fruits Australia website, www.driedfruitsaustralia.org.au (recently redeveloped)
  • Fortnightly e-newsletters
  • Social media
  • The drafting and production of a Dried Fruit Investment Guide.

The Vine

A recent issue of The Vine magazine, produced under project MT15031 as a joint magazine between the dried fruit and table grape industries


MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

Current marketing for the industry has a focus on promoting Australian dried grapes in the European market. This marketing program in managed on the ground in Germany by Boesch Boden Spies (BBS), an importer/wholesaler that markets a range of food ingredients into Europe across both retail and foodservice channels.

BBS has the local European contacts and resources to implement the following marketing activities for the industry:

  • Foodservice print advertising
  • Advertising in retailer publications
  • Trade show representation.

Future editions of Hortlink will contain updates on this activity, as it happens.

FACES OF HORTICULTURE

IVAN SHAW, GROWER & INNOVATOR, VIC

He may be retiring, but Ivan Shaw is still as passionate and optimistic about dried fruit growing as when he first began as a raw but enthusiastic novice 35 years ago.

Ivan is regarded as one of dried fruit’s most energetic and progressive leaders, and though he’s recently sold his property and is stepping down (though will remain on Hort Innovation’s dried grape SIAP), he’s hopeful he’ll watch a phase of regeneration continue to unfold.

“What we need is an influx of younger, enthusiastic innovative people, who want to enjoy the lifestyle and the rewards of growing dried fruit,” Ivan said. “It just doesn’t seem to be on the radar for a lot of people under 30 and I can’t really understand why. It’s a great way of life, can be rewarding financially and it’s tremendously satisfying…”

Building the foundations

Ivan is one of the industry’s most practical and progressive grower leaders. Always pushing to improve, simplify and modify, he has played a key role in industry leadership and on the practical development of a litany of ideas and techniques that revolutionised the industry.

But Ivan wasn’t always destined to be a ‘blockie’. He grew up on the family wheat and sheep property at Boort, in north central Victoria, then went teaching. “I’ve always been interested in farming and mechanics. In the late 1970s while teaching in Adelaide, my wife Jude and I would visit her family often.”

Judith’s family grew dried grapes, and at the time the concept of trellis drying was being developed by CSIRO, originally as a salvage operation in wet seasons. Ivan thought it was a fantastic concept that would be instantly adopted. It wasn’t, but fortunately Jude’s father did, along with a minority of growers.

“Jude’s dad and I built a little harvester from bits of a grain harvester, a bit of an air conditioner, and other parts we scrounged from here and there. There were only one or two harvesters around at the time, and we won a prize for it at the Gadget Day which brought some interest from growers who were trying out trellis drying,” Ivan said.

In 1980, excited by the prospects for industry mechanisation and innovation, Ivan and Judith bought a 10-hectare section of her parents’ property.

“We built 35 harvesters over the next five or six years as a sideline to running the farm and to help pay off our debt,” Ivan said. “We didn’t have access to things like laser cutting – every one of them was made by hand, piece by piece.”

At the same time, Ivan was developing and manufacturing dehydrators and bin-drying systems, which remain the industry standard today.

A legacy of innovation

As the possibilities for mechanisation continued to be proven, the next challenge was to develop vineyard trellis systems specifically designed for mechanised production and higher productivity.

“The old T-trellis was developed for blocks planted up and worked by horses, resulting in very tight headlands and hand-working operations,” Ivan said.

“The biggest catalyst for change in the industry that I remember was a CSIRO field day in the early 1980s with plant scientist Peter Clingeleffer.

“A hanging cane system was among the techniques they were demonstrating. There was also a Swingarm concept shown, and although it was highly productive, it was quite unstable and deemed impractical by the industry.”

The potential was there, though, and people started playing with cordon-based production systems, such as single-wire vertical trellis. This led to Ivan’s Christmas tree trellis which evolved into the Shaw Swingarm Trellis, a more practical improvement on the earlier Irymple Swingarm trellis.

“We needed a system that would be easy to mechanise, physiologically better for the vine and that would create a reasonable microclimate suitable for the fruit,” Ivan said.

“The new trellises brought us to the point that existing machinery were not always adaptable, and led to the radial head harvester, built specially for Swingarm.

“Then came the evolution of two-row harvesters, two-row leaf pluckers, and two-row wetting machines which were exciting in their potential for dried fruit to be grown at scale. That, of course, was the beginning of corporate growing and led to the planting of some big, 200-hectare-plus dried fruit properties.”

Industry recognition for Ivan’s role in developing mechanised systems and machinery, and his leadership, resulted in his award of an Order of Australia Medal in 2005.


Ivan Shaw_harvester

 Ivan developed the radial head harvester specifically for the new Swingarm trellis


This profile is an edited extract from a story on Ivan in the January-March 2017 edition of The Vine magazine. Read the full profile on p16-17 here. The Vine is funded by Hort Innovation using the dried grape and table grape R&D levies, with contributions from the Australian Government. It is a joint publication between Dried Fruits Australia and the Australian Table Grape Association. For the dried grape industry, The Vine falls under the ‘Dried grape industry development project stage 2’ (DG13001), as described in the project summaries above.

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