Development of an onion white rot forecast model for Tasmania (VN14001)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Onion white rot is a serious fungal disease. Beginning in 2016, this project is developing a forecasting model for the disease’s infection periods in Tasmania. It will identify conditions that precede high-risk infection periods, and help in understanding optimum timings of fungicide applications for control of white rot.
What’s the latest update? Field and planter-bag trials continue in the project to collect data to model onion growth and white rot root infection risk. There are six commercial field-trial sites in north west and northern Tasmania, with planter-bag trials at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Vegetable Research Facility.
Another season of data will be required to round out the data collection. From the data there will be three versions of the forecast model created for growers, to account for three key onion planting periods: May, July and September. The data will be presented as a fact sheet detailing for each planting window the combinations of soil temperature, soil moisture and crop growth stage that signal the start of infection periods.
Detection and management of bacterial diseases in Australian allium crops (VN13005)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Due for completion later this year, this three-year project has been investigating bacterial diseases of onion crops in order to improve understanding of their introduction, spread and survival. It will build the industry’s capacity to manage bacterial diseases – including bacterial blight of leek (caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. porri), which affects onions and shallots – and to enhance preparedness for potential incursions of exotic diseases, such as Xanthomonas leaf blight of onion.
What’s the latest update? One of the key areas of this project’s work is in relation to control methods. The researchers note that while there are currently no products registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority specifically for the control of bacteria in onion crops, there are over 40 copper-containing products registered for other uses in onions – with potential to expand the registered use of some of these products for the control of bacterial diseases.
At the time of last reporting in Hortlink (2017, edition 1) investigation of these products was underway, along with the testing of non-copper products that may be effective control measures. There was also the ongoing screening of commercial onion varieties for resistance or tolerance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. porri. More details will be provided in future editions of Hortlink, when available.
Australian onion industry communications (VN15002)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project delivers effective and timely communications to ensure Australian onion growers and other industry stakeholders are kept up-to-date with the latest R&D outcomes, marketing activities, and other industry news and information. In communicating R&D in particular, the ultimate goal is to lead to practice change for growers, boosting productivity and profitability.
The project is also supported by Communication support on VN15002 – Australian onion industry (VN15003) which provides funding to Onions Australia to facilitate work with the communication program’s external service provider, and to deliver event management for the industry (including for grower walks and conferences).
What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by the two projects, including but not limited to:
- The Onions Australia website, www.onionsaustralia.org.au, which was updated and relaunched at the start of February this year
- The Onions Australia annual magazine, available to download here
- Monthly e-newsletters from Onions Australia, available to download here
- Layers newsletters, distributed three times annually
- Social media, via the Onions Australia Facebook and Twitter accounts
- Other resources as needed, including podcasts
- Regional levy-payer meetings and corresponding grower walks/field days, held twice yearly
- Industry conferences.
Onion industry minor use program (VN16000)
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 onion 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.
International onion research delegation (VN16001)
Status: Completed project
What was it all about? This project was established to bring two international speakers to share knowledge and world best practice with onion growers at the recent Hort Connections industry conference, held in Adelaide from May 15 to 17. The speakers were Jacob Wiskerke from Wiskerke Onions in Holland, which is the world’s largest exporter of onions, and Dr Bill Dean from River Point Farms, which is the largest onion production facility in the US.
As well as an off-site farm tour and presentation to growers in Murray Bridge, South Australia, immediately following Hort Connections, Dr Dean also visited Tasmanian growers on May 19 to continue to extend information, including his industry-leading knowledge in pest and disease issues and trials relevant to Australian growers.
Other R&D projects of note…
- Review of the national biosecurity plan for the onion industry and development of a biosecurity manual for onion producers (VN15001), an ongoing project that is responsible for reviewing and updating the onion industry’s biosecurity plan. In identifying, prioritising and looking at the management and surveillance of key biosecurity risks, the biosecurity plan provides a framework for risk mitigation and for managing the impact of potential pest and disease incursions. While the plan itself is a high-level decision-making document, for growers the project will also produce a biosecurity manual to inform of key exotic and endemic pests, weeds and diseases, and how to minimise the risk of them.
- An IPM extension program for the potato and onion industries (MT16009), a project for both the onion and potato industries with a focus on integrated pest management (IPM). Its core activities will support growers in adopting IPM on farm – improving pest management with minimal pesticide use and a reduction in associated costs – and will include workshops, the use of demonstration sites with commercial crops, and the production of materials such as articles, guides and case studies distributed in industry channels. The project will also be responsible for training advisors from Australia’s major onion and potato growing regions in IPM.
- 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 onion industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.