ALMOND LEVY INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

Almond

INDUSTRY UPDATE

Along with Hortlink, don’t forget that Hort Innovation’s almond grower page is an important source of industry info for levy payers. On it you’ll find:

  • The new almond Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, with an easy-to-read ‘at a glance’ version and the full PDF document. The SIP was finalised in April after close consultation with growers and other industry stakeholders. It outlines priorities for strategic investment in the industry, and will be used like a ‘roadmap’ by the almond Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest meeting notes from the almond SIAP, which most recently met on March 22 in Loxton, South Australia, and is due to meet again during August.
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including the July 2016 to March 2017 financial operating statement, and expenditure summaries for R&D projects.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.

Any questions?

As well as Hort Innovation’s almond grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Corrine Jasper is always available to answer questions on the almond program on 0439 433 885 or at corrine.jasper@horticulture.com.au.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Development of high health status mother planting for new Australian almond varieties (AL16004)

Status: New project

What’s it all about? Contracted in March this year, this new project relates to the Australian almond variety evaluation and commercialisation program (AL12015). It will be responsible for helping deliver evaluated and commercialised new varieties to the Australian almond industry.

What’s the latest update? Project AL12015 has been thoroughly evaluating new almond varieties, which have been developed with improved production characteristics – being high-yielding, with self-fertility, improved disease tolerance, closed shells and desirable visual and eating qualities.

Project AL16004 will help provide the earliest possible access to newly commercialised varieties from project AL12015. The new project will establish mother plantings of virus-tested and true-to-type new trees, which will enable high-health-status budwood material to be provided to nurseries for grafting. Its provision of clonal material – as close as possible to the original generation from the industry’s breeding program – will also ensure trees of reliable performance are available as the foundation of new orchard plantings.

With work now getting underway, updates will be provided in future editions of Hortlink.

Identifying factors that influence spur productivity in almond (AL14005)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Established in 2015, this project is being conducted as part of a coordinated research program into boosting almond productivity and profitability. Because yield fluctuations are not well understood, this project will advance understanding of the physiological factors that drive productivity/determine fruit and kernel yield from season to season. It’s investigating the behaviour of fruiting spurs of Nonpareil and Carmel almond cultivars, and is looking at environmental and management factors including tree architecture, light interception, irrigation and nutrition.

What’s the latest update? The project is tracking the fate of individual spurs in trial trees over multiple years and under a variety of management conditions, to describe the factors that influence a spur’s longevity, and to develop better ways to manage orchards. The collection and analysis of data continues, with Nonpareil trees in the study harvested in late February this year, and Carmel trees harvested in late March.

Meanwhile, towards the end of 2016, two posters were presented to industry at the Australian Almond Conference, summarising first-year data from the project and analysis methods used. These resources are available to download from Hort Innovation:

Almond productivity: Tree architecture and development of new growing systems (AL14007)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Established in 2014 and due for completion in 2019, this project is being conducted as part of a coordinated research program into boosting almond productivity and profitability. It has a specific focus on tree architecture and the development of new growing systems.

What’s the latest update? Field trials in the project are ongoing. They involve pruning and light management studies.

Looking at the use of ‘selective limb-removal pruning’ (removing the shoulder branches of cropping trees) and reflective ground covers…

  • The goal is to increase light interception and, by extension, yield in the lower areas of the tree, boosting overall tree yield.
  • The researchers report selective limb-removal pruning has created more open, spreading canopies and, along with reflective ground covers, increased light interception and yield in the lower canopy zones of the trial’s mature, high-density-planted trees.
  • Based on the 2017 harvest, selectively pruned trees with reflective ground covers underneath produced twice as much crop in their lower canopies than untreated trees.
  • The crop produced in the lower canopy areas of the trees displayed delayed maturation compared to the crop in the upper canopy – indicating a need for additional harvests.

The project is also looking at ‘small tree’ pruning – including selectively removing strong branches growing out towards the centre of the rows, resulting in a ‘palmette’ style tree shape. The goal is to reduce shading and increase return bloom in the interior of the trees. If found to be a successful system of pruning, this would allow for closer row spacing in new plantings – increasing growers’ yields per hectare. The researchers report the narrow pruning approach applied to young trees appears sufficient to delay overcrowding of trees that are planted at high density, with work continuing.

Some of the other areas of investigation in the project include:

  • The use of trunk girdling to improve return bloom and promote earlier cropping on young trees
  • Evaluation of the performance of trees grown as ‘central leader trees’ with a single dominant trunk, for suitability in ultra-high-density planting systems.

Advanced processing of almonds (AL12003)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2013 and involving the University of South Australia, this project supports:

  • Research into effective aeration and dehydration of bulk almonds in silos, bunkers and sheds, which is being undertaken by a PhD student
  • Research into the effective hulling of almonds in-field and during processing, as well as the improved cracking of almonds, being conducted by a post-doc Research Fellow
  • Work into technologies to sense temperatures of almonds and their waste in stockpiles; to yield map almond pick-up in the orchards; to compare methods of storing bulk almonds; and to develop almond hulling, cracking and cleaning equipment – with this work involving final-year mechanical engineering and electrical engineering students.

What’s the latest update? As previously reported, the project has developed a system for on-farm dehydration and rehydration. It:

  • Allows fruit to be dried from any moisture content (ie: is suitable for drying early-harvested fruit) without creating cavities or brown centres – provided there is adequate circulation to prevent stagnation
  • Allows rain-affected fruit to be dried, to reduce the incidence of mould
  • Can humidify over-dried fruit to increase moisture content and processability.

The aeration system uses in-situ temperature and humidity measurements and regulating fans to control bulk-drying, setting humidity that corresponds to six per cent kernel moisture content. Installed in a grower’s drying shed and showcased during 2016 extension activities, the monitoring technology it uses has since been used by a handful of businesses during the 2017 harvest, for stockpiles and in shipping container driers.

Other equipment and processes the project is developing are:

  • On-farm impact hulling. With dried almonds traditionally transported to hullers and shellers for processing with their hulls attached – and the hulls representing up to 45 per cent of the mass of dried almonds – on-farm hulling could almost halve the volume needing to be stored and transported. The research is working towards equipment that can be added directly onto shake and catch equipment, leaving chopped-up hulls in the orchard at the time of harvest and allowing for early harvest and dehydration (the research has shown the optimum time for hulling is when the split in the hull is open approximately 10mm).
  • Improved shelling, with a focus on conditioning almonds by soaking in water, draining, then allowing to stand before being processed. The research suggests conditioning the almonds prior to shelling and using impact shelling can achieve over 90 per cent flawless nonpareil kernels and over 60 per cent flawless kernels for hard-shelled varieties. The project team note that the conditioning process only increased the kernel moisture content to nine per cent, which was easy to dry back to six per cent immediately after shelling.

Almond industry statistics and data collection 2017-2019 (AL16003)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning in late 2016, this project collects industry statistics and makes them readily available to growers and other industry stakeholders. This information is intended to allow almond businesses and the broader industry to make timely and effective decisions in planning and resource prioritization.

What’s the latest update? Specific project activities include:

  • Production of monthly export position reports, which are available and updated on the industry website here
  • Ongoing collection of domestic and international almond statistics, disseminated through the In A Nutshell industry newsletter
  • Production of the annual statistics report, Almond Insights – see the 2015/16 report here, and look out for the 2016/17 report soon.
  • Annual Almond Planting Surveys, with the 2016 survey distributed in September last year and to be fed into the next Almond Insights
  • Production of crop forecasts (at least annually).

Almond minor use permit program (AL16002)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Through this project, levy funds and Australian Government contributions are used to renew and apply for new minor use permits for the almond industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

What’s the latest update? All current minor use permits for the industry are searchable at portal.apvma.gov.au/permits. Permit updates are also circulated in Hort Innovation’s Growing Innovation e-newsletter, which levy-paying members receive monthly. Not a member? Sign up for free here.

Australian almond industry communications program (AL16000)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This program continues to provide a broad range of timely information to Australian almond growers and other industry stakeholders, to keep the almond community well informed and in a place to make improved business decisions.

What’s the latest update? Communication channels that are produced and maintained by the program include the In A Nutshell quarterly industry newsletter, the industry website (australianalmonds.com.au) and its grower/levy payers’ portal (growing.australianalmonds.com.au). The project is also responsible for producing media releases promoting key research findings and events, and utilises social media, video and face-to-face communications.

Management of Carpophilus beetle in almonds (AL15004)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project was established in 2016 in response to industry concern about the impact and management of Carpophilus beetles in almond production, after confirmation that the beetles were present in almost 70 per cent of almond plantings. The project aims to develop a cost-effective management system to control the pest, without increasing secondary pest issues.

It is:

  • Investigating the potential of the Carpophilus Attract & Kill system for use in almonds (currently used in stone-fruit orchards)
  • Developing understanding of the biology, ecology and distribution of Carpophilus species in almonds
  • Screening candidate pesticides.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1). Stay tuned for an update in the next Hortlink, or read last edition’s recap.

To download the project-produced fact sheet Managing Carpophilus Beetle: Monitoring and Attract and Kill 2016-17 Season, click here.

Better tree performance and water use efficiency through root system resilience (AL13009)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Established in 2014 and due for completion in 2019, this project is being conducted as part of a coordinated research program into boosting almond productivity and profitability. It specifically aims to support more informed rootstock choice, more efficient irrigation strategies and more efficient use of nutrition.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1). Look out for an update in the next Hortlink, and read last edition’s project summary.

Pollination as a controlling factor in almond yield (AL14004)

Status: Near-completed project

What’s it all about? Established in 2014 and now due for completion, this project has been conducted as part of a coordinated research program into boosting almond productivity and profitability. It has examined the effect of increased pollination on the number and size of nuts in different parts of the tree.

What’s the latest update? With the project’s final report soon to be submitted to Hort Innovation, results will be included in a future edition of Hortlink. Meanwhile, to read the detailed project update from last edition, click here.

Managing almond production in a variable and changing climate (AL14006)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Commencing in 2015 and expected to conclude in 2019, this project is conducting a detailed analysis of climate data in order to assess and prioritise key climate risks for the main almond growing regions in Australia. These risks include heat waves, droughts, untimely rainfall and insufficient chilling units of cold weather. The project will also suggest options for managing these risks.

What’s the latest update? The project continues to investigate management options for key climate risks, and continues to develop tools for how decisions around these management options can be made by almond businesses. While no new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1), you can see last edition’s update here and will find the latest info in the next Hortlink.

Other R&D projects of note…

  • Australian almond industry innovation and adoption program (AL16001), a recent project that is helping provide technical advice to growers, facilitate the adoption of R&D, and identify and develop initiatives to address capacity-building requirements of the industry. The project supports the roles and activities of Almond Board of Australia industry development manager Andrew Downs (adowns@australianalmonds.com.au) and industry development officers Brett Rosenzweig (brosenzweig@australianalmonds.com.au) and Josh Fielke (jfielke@australianalmonds.com.au).
  • Horticulture trade intelligence reporting 2017-2019 (MT16011), a new project to provide easy-to-read and easy-to-act-upon trade performance information to Australia’s horticulture industry. Quarterly reports will be made available through the Hort Innovation website, with the first almond report soon to be downloadable from the almond grower page.
  • Enhanced National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT16005), which is delivering a nationally coordinated bee-pest surveillance program to help safeguard honey-bee and pollinator-dependent industries in Australia. The surveillance will enable the early detection of high-priority pest incursions of honey bees, providing the best opportunity for successful pest eradication. The almond industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.
  • Almond study tour (AL16701), which supports industry relationship building and collaboration with the Californian and Spanish almond industries by funding a study tour for industry representatives.

Almond levy investment in strategic partnership projects…

What are ‘strategic partnership’ projects?

Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects with the aim of finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the future of Australian horticulture. These projects are funded via a combination of Australian Government investments (at least $20 million annually) and co-investments that are brokered and managed by Hort Innovation (including from research institutes, commercial partners, individual levy industries and more).

How is the almond industry involved?

Almond levy is co-invested in Asia Fruit Logistica (AM16007), a project that’s part of the strategic partnership Asian Markets Fund. In November, it will take the Australia Fresh brand to Hong Kong for Asia Fruit Logistica, a leading trade show attended by more than 11,000 top decision-makers from over 70 countries. Australia Fresh represents the multi-industry export-market-development program for fruits, nuts and vegetables. Its pavilion at Asia Fruit Logistica is expected to be a major drawcard for buyers. For 2017, activity will also include an insights marketing tour, networking events, business matching events and more.

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2017-06-23T23:53:13+00:00