Review of the Biosecurity Plan for the Apple and Pear Industry (AP15003)
Status: Completed project
What was it all about? The identification, prioritisation and management of key biosecurity risks – through review and implementation of a biosecurity plan – are critical industry biosecurity preparedness activities. This project has completed an update of the apple and pear industry’s biosecurity plan, providing a framework for risk mitigation and for managing the impact pest and disease incursions.
The new Biosecurity Plan for the Apple and Pear Industry document is currently being circulated for industry and government endorsement, after which it will be released widely to industry.
Understanding apple and pear production systems in a changing climate (AP12029)
Status: Completed project
What was it all about? This project was tasked with helping reduce the vulnerability of the Australian apple and pear industry to changes in our climate. Its key activities included modelling a changing climate to investigate potential effects on winter chill, tree flowering, fruit sunburn and fruit yield, as well as looking at appropriate adaptive responses for the industry.
In modelling future climate scenarios – both medium and worst-case scenarios for the years 2030 and 2050 – the researchers found:
- Winter chill accumulation is set to decline in each of the country’s pome-fruit-growing regions (the historical data shows that regions with a milder climate have been experiencing a decline in annual winter chill accumulation since the late 1960s, while colder regions have yet to be impacted)
- Warmer locations are expected to experience a reduction in winter chill of more than 20 per cent by the year 2050
- The coldest apple and pear growing regions are expected to experience a winter-chill decline of less than 10 to 14 per cent
- All pome fruit regions can expect to experience an increase in the number of extreme heat days during the growing season, with the greatest impacts likely to be in regions with hot summer climates.
In short, the researchers report that climate change “will add significant variability into the pome fruit production system with respect to flowering and fruit quality”. It is expected that growing regions are likely to experience symptoms of inadequate chilling with increasing frequency in future years, including greater variability in flowering dates between seasons, cultivars and individual trees, and irregular and protracted flowering. Looking at the Cripps Pink apple cultivar in particular, the research has indicated an earlier full-bloom date can be expected in high-chill locations by 2050, while a later bloom date is expected in milder winter locations by 2030 (with flowering dates delayed by more than a week by 2050).
With an increase in extreme heat days, an increased risk of fruit sunburn is also expected.
The researchers note that while Australian growers are used to dealing with some level of climate variability – and that the effects on flowering and fruit quality may be within the range of grower experience in some regions up to around 2030 – by 2050 growers will be operating outside of current experience.
In regards to adaptive measures to combat the expected effects of a changing climate the project has found:
- Dormancy-breaking sprays are likely to be a viable tool for managing delayed and variable flowering in some cultivars in lower winter chill years, based on initial trials.
- Despite this, planting lower-chill cultivars and, as possible, matching cultivars with climate is the preferred adaption option.
- To this end, there is a need for detailed information to help growers be able to match apple and pear cultivars with suitable growing climates – including matching cultivar chilling requirements with winter chill, and heat tolerance with summer temperatures.
- The use of netting will reduce the risk of sunburn damage, with the research showing air-temperature thresholds for fruit under netting were higher than the thresholds for fruit without netting. Project trials in Western Australia found black and white netting to be equally effective in reducing fruit surface temperatures in late summer.
- There is a need for industry to look towards guidelines for managing extreme heat in orchards, including the use of evaporative cooling, stress-reduction chemicals, tree canopy structure and more.
The researchers have also recommended:
- Comprehensive in-orchard monitoring of flowering dates across cultivars to provide early indication of cultivars that might be impacted by warmer winters, as well as identification of subtle shifts in the timing of flowering between cultivars and their pollinisers.
- In blocks where flowering is becoming increasingly irregular, growers will need to assess the point at which the increased cost of inputs and effort required to produce a consistently high quality crop make a block of trees unprofitable.
Full details can be found in the project’s final report, which will soon be 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.
The project has also produced an interactive chill calculator, to enable growers to calculate winter chill accumulation in their region during dormancy – find it here.
Australian apple and pear industry innovation and adoption program (AP15004)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project is responsible for accelerating and expanding the adoption of innovation and technology in apple and pear businesses, and facilitating industry capacity-building, via the apple and pear Future Orchards program.
Future Orchards is an internationally renowned technology-transfer project. It includes orchard field walks, orchard benchmarking, and orchard business analysis to deliver world’s best practice and R&D linkages to apple and pear growers in Australia’s major growing regions.
The project also aims to upskill the workforce, improve grower crop and business risk mitigation strategies, and provide grower services and technical support along the supply chain. It seeks to improve crop protection stewardship and chemical access, provide biosecurity preparedness, improve post-harvest productivity, and nurture technical preparedness for export.
Project AP15004 is linked to Delivery of apple and pear Future Orchards extension program (AP15005) which is responsible for the technical delivery of the Future Orchards program. AP15005 covers the Focus Orchards network to demonstrate the adoption of best practice and new technology, Focus Orchard properties, OrchardNet, Orchard Business Analysis reporting and regional trials.
What’s the latest update? Winter Future Orchard walks have been scheduled throughout June this year, with a focus on ‘future trees’. For more information, contact APAL Technical Manager Angus Crawford on (03) 9329 3511, or 0427 111 852, or at email@example.com.
Southern Loop Orchard Walks
Northern Tasmania – June 19, 2017
Southern Victoria – June 20, 2017
Adelaide Hills, South Australia – June 21, 2017
Manjimup, Western Australia – June 23, 2017
Northern Loop Orchard Walks
Shepparton, Victoria – June 26, 2017
Batlow, New South Wales – June 27, 2017
Bilpin, New South Wales – June 28, 2017
Stanthorpe, Queensland – June 30, 2017
Other Future Orchards activities and resources have continued to include…
- The Future Orchards library, which features presentations and notes from past walks, as well as Future Orchard webinars
- Focus Orchards/orchard trials
- OrchardNet, an online database allowing live business updates to be shared with managers, consultants, pack houses and exporters. It also tracks history, provides benchmarks and forecast performances, as well as housing Focus Orchard data.
- Other extension activities, such as the preparation of relevant articles for Australian Fruitgrower and updates provided in the Future Orchards section of the APAL website here.
Integrated pest and disease management – phase 2 (AP15001)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project follows on from the industry’s previous integrated pest and disease management project. The original work resulted in approval to import and release the Mastrus ridens wasp as a biocontrol agent against codling moth in apples, to supplement pheromone-mediated mating disruption of the moth. This second phase will see the release of Mastrus ridens into sites in Southern Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria for study of the wasp’s dispersal, predation and hyper-parasitism.
What’s the latest update? In late April, the project saw the first release of Mastrus ridens at Batlow and Orange in New South Wales. About 20,000 wasps were released in each area. This follows earlier field releases in Stanthorpe, Queensland, and in northern Victoria. You can read about these in the last edition of Hortlink here. Find more details in the next Hortlink as the project continues its field work, and also the investigation of the potential toxicity of pesticides to Mastrus ridens.
Apple and pear industry minor use program (AP16001)
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 apple and pear 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.
PIPS Orchard Productivity Program (AP09031)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Originally this program was established to increase efficiency within and assist sustainability of apple and pear orchards. It was due for completion at the end of 2014, when a two-year variation was granted to extend specific work into artificial spur extinction (ASE). As such, the current focus of AP09031 is on developing the ASE technique as a crop-load management tool for the industry. By selectively removing buds to imitate natural bud extinction, ASE can be used to precisely determine where and how much fruit is set on trees.
What’s the latest update? 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 an upcoming edition of Hortlink.
To watch a video from the project demonstrating ASE, click here.
Profitable pears: maximising productivity and quality of new pear varieties (AP12002)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Underway since 2013, this project is investigating management techniques and physiological mechanisms to increase the profitability of growing pears. It uses an experimental orchard (the Pear Field Laboratory) with new red-blushed pear varieties developed previously under the National Pear Breeding Program, and is producing results that will impact on orchard irrigation, rootstock and cultivar selection, planting arrangement and tree training.
What’s the latest update? The project has developed and published new grower guidelines for the management of young trees for red-blushed cultivars Lanya, Deliza and ANP-0534. Download the Pear Planting and Management Systems for New Blush Pears orchard management guide from Hort Innovation here. It includes information on planting arrangement, rootstock selection, tree training and pruning, as well as irrigation and the use of plant growth regulators.
Videos and other resources related to the project also continue to be available here.
Meanwhile, while no new milestone report on project activities was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1), you can read last edition’s update here.
Improved tree and fruit nutrition for the Australian apple industry (AP14023)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Research into optimising nitrogen-use efficiency has the potential to boost productivity in apple growing. This project is developing a multi-season nitrogen budget underpinned by fertigation research, to in turn produce a user-friendly decision-support tool to assist growers across the country in optimising irrigation and fertigation application.
What’s the latest update? There are a number of activities under this project, working towards a common goal. In a nutshell, work is focusing on validating an international research model for predicting tree water and nitrogen use, and then using this as the basis for the grower-friendly decision-support tool. With no milestone report due since the last edition of Hortlink, see what was happening at the time of last reporting here, and look for more info in the next Hortlink.
Physiological, metabolic and molecular basis of biennial bearing in apple (AP15002) and Physiological, metabolic and molecular basis of biennial bearing in apple – Australian component of AP15002 (AP15013)
Status: Ongoing projects
What’s it all about? Biennial bearing is a major constraint to apple flowering and production, and it’s estimated that around 30 per cent of commercial cultivars are susceptible. While this cropping irregularity is usually managed by chemical, mechanical or manual thinning methods, the underlying physiological, metabolic and molecular plant processes are largely unknown. Beginning in 2016, these two related projects aim to increase understanding of the mechanisms involved in flowering time control of apple crops.
What’s the latest update? With no milestone reports recently due, look out for project updates in the next edition of Hortlink – and to see what was happening at the time of last reporting, see the last edition of Hortlink here. You can also read more about both projects in this article from an older edition of Australian Fruitgrower, which is funded by Hort Innovation’s National apple and pear grower communications program (AP15007).
InfoPome 3 (AP15008)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? InfoPome is the apple and pear industry’s stock tracking system. Cool-store data is voluntarily provided by growers and collated into national reports of the amounts of apples and pears in cool-store by month. The reports are separated by variety and state, allowing growers to see stock levels currently available in storage. Supply of this data (and analysis reports drawing out critical messages) allows informed decisions about sale prices and volumes to be sold.
What’s the latest update? Weekly, automated InfoPome reports continue to be produced as usual and are available to those cool stores that have contributed to the data collection. The reports provide a timely snapshot of the stockholding status nationally, by state and by variety. To supply data, cool stores receive automated SMS and/or email messages containing links to enter their stocks. A free InfoPome app is also available for iOS and Android.
National apple and pear grower communications program (AP15007)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Funded by Hort Innovation using the apple and pear R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government, this program ensures apple and pear growers are kept up-to-date with the latest industry news, information and R&D updates. Its ultimate goal is to support the industry as a whole to advance and grow, to allow informed decision-making in apple and pear businesses, and to facilitate the uptake of new practices, technologies and information.
What’s the latest update? Delivered through Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL), the project continues to produce and maintain key communication channels, including but not limited to:
- The bi-monthly Australian Fruitgrower magazine, viewable online here
- The weekly Industry Juicee-newlsetter (find archived issues here)
- The APAL website, which was redeveloped and relaunched during 2016 under this project
- APAL social media, including Twitter (@applesnpearsAU), Facebook and LinkedIn
- Video content, hosted on the APAL YouTube channel and including demonstration videos, expert information/discussion videos, and grower showcases.
The project is also involved in the production of media releases, has delivered media training to industry representatives, maintains an industry photo library on image-sharing service Flickr (available here) and produces ‘hot topics’.
Other R&D projects of note…
- 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 apple and pear report soon to be downloadable from the apple and pear grower page.
- Consumption of juiced fruit and vegetables data analytics (MT16008), a short project that has investigated the fruit, vegetable and juice consumption of Australians. The research has revealed a significant opportunity to grow consumption, with over half of Australian adults not currently eating enough fruit – and over 65 per cent not eating enough veg – to meet Australia’s dietary guidelines. Read more about the project findings here. The research was a multi-industry effort also involving the citrus and vegetable industries.
- Independent program coordination for apple and pear productivity program (AP14022), which supports the coordination and integration of a number or projects, which together make up ‘PIPS2’ program for the industry (the second iteration of the Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils program). PIPS2 projects include AP14023, AP15001, AP15002. AP09031, AP12002 and AP15013, as described above. Activities of the coordination project include improving communication within and between project teams and the apple and pear industry, coordinating linkages and activities between PIPS2 and the Future Orchards program, and more.
- Apple and pear industry leadership initiative – 2016/17 (AP15015), which supports Apple & Pear New Horizons Scholarships for young people, to help accelerate change in the apple and pear industry. The scholarships are used towards the completion of a Diploma of Agribusiness at Victoria’s Marcus Oldham College. The 2017 scholarship recipient is Jack Bartels, who is currently working with Hansen Orchards in Tasmania.
- MRL risk analysis for major export markets of the pome fruit industry (AP14002), which collects information on export requirements with regards to pesticides and residue limits. The project maintains and updates maximum residue limit (MRL) tables for key export markets, and supplies these to APAL for distribution to industry.
- Australian apple and pear industry market development program (AP15009), which has recently concluded and has produced a new export plan for the apple and pear industry. The report will be released to industry shortly. When available, copies can be requested from APAL.
- Prevar 3: new pomme fruit products (AP14025), an ongoing project that is responsible for developing innovative, high-quality new varieties of apples and pears. Project activities include breeding and commercialization.
- 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 apple and pear industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.
- SITplus: Developing and optimising production of a male-only, temperature-sensitive-lethal, strain of Qfly, B. tryoni (MT13059), which is developing a ‘temperature-sensitive lethal, male-selecting’ strain of Queensland fruit fly (Qfly). To put simply, the research will allow for male-only, sterile fruit flies to be bred in large numbers. It is one of the key projects in the broader strategic co-investment SITplus initiative that’s tackling the issue of Qfly. The male flies are to ultimately be released in growing regions of south-eastern Australian that are affected by Qfly. They will come to outnumber the wild male population in these areas and by mating with wild females – and limiting the opportunity for wild males to do so – they are intended to lead to the collapse of wild Qfly populations. The apple and pear industry is one of several involved in the project.