Protecting Australia’s citrus industry from biosecurity threats (CT12022)
Status: Completed project
What was it all about? Running from 2013 to the beginning of this year, this project was established to strengthen industry planning and preparedness in relation to biosecurity and other risks, and to facilitate awareness of exotic pests and diseases among growers, consultants and other industry participants.
Some of the project’s achievements included the development of the Biosecurity Manual for Citrus Producers, to assist growers understand, identify, avoid and manage high-priority pest and diseases, as well as revision of the industry’s biosecurity plan (a high-level document that ranks pest and disease threats to assist in biosecurity planning). Both documents are available on the Plant Health Australia website here.
The project also employed a part-time Citrus Biosecurity Manager, Stuart Pettigrew, to coordinate biosecurity activity and to ensure information from the project reached growers and other stakeholders. Training of crop scouts in the identification of exotic pests, the development and deployment of an industry surveillance strategy, and refinement of the industry’s Huanglongbing contingency plan were also among its activities.
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.
Hort Innovation is currently working towards the establishment of a new iteration of this project.
Development of national strategies to manage citrus gall wasp (CT15006)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Citrus gall wasp is a major and widespread pest in citrus. Established in 2015, this project is developing national management strategies for the wasp based on:
- Enhanced biological control
- Better timing of control actions, through investigation of the relationship between weather and the wasp’s development (the development of ‘degree-day’/phenology models)
- Improved use of oil and other potential repellents
- Identification of new insecticide options compatible with integrated pest management approaches.
What’s the latest update? If you missed it in the last Hortlink, don’t forget to read this profile with the project’s lead researcher, entomologist Dr Jianhua Mo. In it, Dr Mo gives an overview of citrus gall wasp, and the management strategies being developed in the project. You can also access a fact sheet on the wasp here.
Most recently the project has been analysing field-trial data from the last season in the Sunraysia and Riverland areas. The trials looked at the effectiveness of Surround – a kaolin-based particle film product – in deterring citrus gall wasps from laying eggs, and at the effectiveness of systemic insecticides Samurai, Confidor Guard and Movento in controlling gall wasp larvae. While new trials will be ongoing this season, initial results suggest:
- Surround can be an excellent repellent when it comes to egg-lay
- Confidor Guard and Samurai can provide effective control of larvae in late spring
- Movento and Samurai can provide effective control of larvae during summer-autumn.
See more with this fact sheet on current project findings, which was presented at the 2017 Citrus Technical Forum.
Development of phenology models and a timing guide for the management of Californian red scale in Australian citrus (CT15008)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Aphytis wasps and petroleum spray oils are used in the control of Californian red scale (CRS) in Australian citrus crops – but they are only (or mostly) effective at certain life stages of the pest, and so timing is everything.
This project is developing degree-day-based phenology models to predict the timing of peak abundance of vulnerable life stages of CRS to better guide Aphytis releases and oil applications.
What’s the latest update? A summary of project and its findings to date was presented at the 2017 Citrus Technical Forum – if you missed it, you can download the handy fact sheet here.
Data collection has been ongoing in the project, with seasonal patterns of red scale crawler activity during 2015-2017 monitored with sticky-tape traps at three sites in the Riverina and four sites in the Sunraysia regions. At each site, two traps were placed around small twigs in each of 10 trees infested with red scale infested. Monitoring started from late October to early November 2015 and continued at weekly (October to May) to fortnightly (June to September) intervals thereafter.
The researchers note that there was more than one crawler ‘peak’ in a season, with the first one – post-winter from late October to early December – more consistent and likely to provide a promising window for application of red scale sprays.
Work is continuing.
Australian Citrus Quality Standards – stage 3 (CT15013)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Established in 2011 and now in its third stage, the Australian Citrus Quality Standards program has a focus on improving and maintaining the eating quality of Australian citrus – ensuring fruit consistently meets or exceeds consumer expectations. The overarching goal is to increase consumption and ensure the price of Australian citrus is maximized.
Some of the key work in the project includes:
- Capturing and disseminating maturity levels of fruit for sale in the wholesale market to inform marketing decisions
- Developing and implementing procedures to improve quality, including a maximum granulation standard for Imperial mandarins to help restore consumer confidence
- Increasing knowledge in the supply chain to achieve greater adoption of quality improvement practices
- Developing a standard operating procedure for start of harvest that reduces the likelihood of immature fruit entering the supply chain.
What’s the latest update? Summing up the project’s in-market maturity testing and reporting for the 2016 season, there was a focus on early-market and early-variety fruit in the major wholesale markets. Over the season, 21 Australian Citrus Quality Standards reports were provided to value-chain participants, with 741 tests conducted – representing 7410 individual pieces of fruit.
Overall, 96 per cent of mandarins and 98 per cent of oranges passed the Brim A/Australian Citrus Standard assessment.
In regards to granulation of Imperial mandarins, over six per cent of the samples tested were in the unacceptable range based on the maximum granulation standard introduced last year (reported in the last edition of Hortlink). The industry’s citrus quality and market information manager will continue to disseminate material on assessing fruit in relation to the granulation standard for growers, and has worked with quality-testing teams in the wholesale markets to develop material for the assessment of granulation too.
Other work in the project has involved, or is currently involving…
- Continued development of a draft standard operating procedure for the start of harvest, to ensure fruit quality. The draft procedure was to be made available for comment in industry channels shortly.
- Continuation of the pre-season/pre-harvest testing and reporting program that was begun in 2016 – this pilot program is seen as an essential step in preventing poor-quality fruit from entering the supply chain and as the most effective way to improve consumer outcomes.
- Continued updating and maintenance of the citrus maturity calculator app for iPhone and Android devices.
Citrus Technical Forums (CT16700)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project is responsible for the planning and delivery of the industry’s biennial Citrus Technical Forums, which are a chance for growers and other industry participants to come together to learn about the latest technological developments and updates on current R&D projects. The events combine presentations, workshops and field trips.
What’s the latest update? The 2017 Citrus Technical Forum and Field Day event was held over two days on March 1 and 2 in Mildura. If you missed it, you can access copies of the presentations that were given on the Citrus Australia website here.
The latest edition of Australian Citrus News (Autumn 2017), produced under project CT15009, also provides a host of stories based on the presentations and field day learnings, while a quick video recap of the forum is available to watch on YouTube here.
Australian Citrus Post-Harvest Science Program (CT15010)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Beginning in January this year, this project continues the industry’s post-harvest science and technology program. The program is responsible for delivering new information and innovative technologies to improve the quality of Australian citrus, with ultra-low chemical residues. Specifically, it is:
- Developing and assessing chemistry and other technologies to address post-harvest issues. This involves:
- Looking at pre-harvest and post-harvest interactions to manage chemical residues
- Investigating conventional and alternative post-harvest decay control options (including fungicides, sanitisers, edible coatings, and safe chemical compounds) as alternatives to 2,4-D
- Fungicide resistance monitoring of current and alternative treatments.
- Facilitating the adoption of new and existing post-harvest approaches through face-to-face interactions across key growing regions, as well as through articles in Australian Citrus News, online training and the development of other post-harvest information resources.
What’s the latest update? Information on the program was most recently presented to growers at the 2017 Citrus Technical Forum in Mildura in March, with the project team also visiting regional forums and meeting with growers and packers earlier in the year.
The program is currently working to deliver a new Australian Mandarin Production Manual, which is expected to be released mid-year. One of the topics covered in the manual will be post-harvest de-greening, with best-practice tips from the manual recently published here, under the project Citrus industry communications (CT15009).
Look for a more detailed update in the next edition of Hortlink.
Protecting Australian citrus germplasm through improved diagnostic tools project (CT14009)
What’s it all about? Running since 2014, this project is assessing, developing and validating diagnostic methods for a number of endemic graft-transmissible pathogens of citrus to help secure the high health status of the Australian citrus industry. The project also aims to boost Australia’s preparedness for an incursion of devastating citrus disease Huanglongbing.
What’s the latest update? For growers, a draft fact sheet on citrus tristeza virus has recently been produced and is to be released in industry channels shortly, along with two general fact sheets on citrus viruses and viroids.
The main project activities remain largely technical and related to the development and refinement of laboratory testing procedures. Most recently, project work has identified improved detection methods for:
- Citrus bark cracking viroid
- Citrus leaf blotch virus
- Citrus psorosis virus
- Citrus tristeza virus
- Citrus yellow mosaic virus.
Citrus industry minor use program (CT16000)
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 citrus industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).
The minor use program is also supported by the project Generation of residue, efficacy and crop safety data for pesticide applications in horticulture crops 2017 (ST16006) which, as the name suggests, is responsible for generating data to support a range of permit applications for a range of industries. Project ST16006 uses grant funds from the Australian Government’s Agvet program, which you can read more about here, plus some levy contributions.
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.
Evaluating new citrus varieties 2013-17 (CT12026)
Status: Near-completed project
What’s it all about? Established in 2013 and now wrapping up, this project has continued the evaluation of new varieties of citrus for the industry. Among its goals have been to boost grower productivity and profitability, diversify the Australian varietal mix, meet new and changing consumer demands, and provide new domestic and international market opportunities.
What’s the latest update? With the project’s final report due to Hort Innovation soon, it is expected a full project wrap-up will be provided in an upcoming edition of Hortlink. To read the project update from last edition, click here.
Evaluation and commercialisation of new citrus rootstocks (CT13042)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Running since 2014, the goal of this project is to make promising new rootstocks commercially available to the Australian citrus industry. Matched to local environmental and soil conditions, the rootstocks will help improve tree health, fruit quality and yield. The work will ultimately allow growers to intensify plantings, modernise orchards and obtain higher yields with minimal extra inputs.
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 the next Hortlink.
Australian citrus industry innovation and market development program (CT15012)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project supports a range of personnel to help develop a globally competitive and well-informed citrus industry that can reliably supply product that satisfies market requirements. These personnel include:
- A market development manager (MDM), to help facilitate reliable supply, overcome market challenges and identify new opportunities. Activities of the MDM include the coordination of exporter groups, trade missions, crop forecasting and biosecurity work.
- A market access manager (MAM), to help the industry overcome barriers to trade. Activities of the MAM include updating the industry’s export strategy plan and export manual, working with stakeholders to improve phytosanitary protocols, and advising on Free Trade Agreements.
- A market information manager (MIM) to engage all value-chain participants to capture and disseminate timely information on supply, market conditions and shipping movements.
What’s the latest update? Project activities remain many and varied, with the three managers engaging with growers, packers, exporters, retailers, government and researchers to protect the citrus production base; prioritise market-access initiatives; streamline export registration procedures; provide market information; and improve product offerings for domestic and international markets.
Though no new milestone report was due in the period since the last Hortlink (2017, edition 1), as per the last edition’s update, key project activities have included:
- Continued delivery of monthly Season Updates for growers, which provide a summary for the major citrus growing regions including seasonal outlooks and advice of nutrition, irrigation, pest and diseases and more. Find the latest Season Update documents here.
- Provision of weekly reports on shipping volumes and conditions in export markets.
- Provision of production data via InfoCitrus during the season – see more and log in to the InfoCitrus database here.
- Delivery of training for registered crop monitors, who are responsible for surveying orchards for pests and diseases as part of the process of exporting to Korea, China and Thailand.
- Facilitation of the industry’s online export registration system. At the end of 2016 and into early 2017, the project assisted growers and packers in lodging export registration applications for the 2017 season, which included face-to-face visits in all major growing regions and support via phone and email.
- Work towards annual crop forecasts, plus fruit density and sizing surveys to help inform the industry of the quantity and quality of fruit.
- Facilitation of the national tree census.
- Participation in and facilitation of export, variety, agrichemical and domestic/quality leadership groups, as well as Japan, China and US exporter groups.
- Participation in relevant trade events.
Citrus industry communications (CT15009)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project delivers effective and timely communications to ensure Australian citrus growers and other industry stakeholders are kept up-to-date with the latest R&D and marketing activities, and other industry news and information. Among its key goals are to support decision-making within citrus businesses and to facilitate the uptake of new research and technologies, to ultimately strengthen the profitability and sustainability of the industry.
Its work is supported by the project Citrus Australia Limited – communication support on CT15009 (CT15015), which provides funding to Citrus Australia to facilitate work with the communication program’s external service provider.
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:
- The quarterly national magazine, Australian Citrus News
- Monthly Season Update newsletters
- Fortnightly Citrus eNews e-newsletters
- The industry website, www.citrusaustralia.com.au.
The project also produces industry media releases as required, maintains a photography database, and develops grower case studies for peer-to-peer learning.
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 citrus report soon to be downloadable from the citrus grower page.
- MRL risk analyses and risk management options for major citrus export markets (CT14003), which is now finishing up. The project and has been responsible for collecting, preparing and supplying maximum residue limit (MRL) information to keep the Australian citrus industry informed of changes that could lead to pesticide-related market problems for exporters. Its work is expected to be continued by a new project in this space.
- Agrichemical residue monitoring program for Australian citrus exports – stage 2 (CT15016). Beginning in 2016, this project works to ensure exporters have effective residue risk-management strategies in place and continues, improves and expands on the Australian Citrus Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program (ACPRMP), which commenced in 2011. The ACPRMP involves the testing of Australian citrus for a range of chemical residues and potential contaminants, to ensure that citrus exporters meet regulatory requirements in domestic and international markets. The program is a collaborative arrangement between industry and the Australian Government, and citrus exporters and packing houses not already participating are encouraged to contact David Daniels at Citrus Australia, at email@example.com.
- Protecting Australia’s citrus genetic material (CT15005), which continues to fund the long-term National Citrus Repository (NCR) program for publicly owned citrus varieties. It supports the maintenance and disease testing of foundation trees in the NCR and the disease testing of new Australian citrus selections entering the repository system. The NCR is an important part of an integrated biosecurity system designed to protect the health and economic viability of the Australian citrus industry. There are currently 117 publicly owned citrus clones housed by the NCR.
- Building a genetic foundation for Australia’s citrus future through targeted breeding (CT15017), which began in late 2016. This project is employing breeding technologies and germplasm in an integrated program that will develop improved, quality varieties.
- 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 apple and pear and vegetable industries.
- 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 citrus industry is one of several involved in the project.