National strawberry varietal improvement program (BS12021)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? To ensure the Australian strawberry industry has access to improved, locally-adapted varieties into the future, Hort Innovation is continuing to support breeding for targeted environments. This is done under the national breeding project with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). Established in 2012, this project is:
- Using quantitative genetics to develop new varieties with increased fruit size and early yield
- Identifying and incorporating resistance to wilt diseases into new varieties
- Looking at the economic significance of traits to ensure the most economically beneficial traits are the focus of varietal development
- Developing varieties to boost consumer satisfaction.
This project has different ‘nodes’, representing different commercial production regions with their own varietal needs, which are predominantly climate-based.
What’s the latest update? Work continues to lead towards the commercial availability of new varieties for Australia’s growing regions. During the 2016/17 season, approximately 1200 seedlings were evaluated, and so far 10 selections have been identified to advance to the next stage, which includes on-farm trialling.
At the time of reporting in last Hortlink, in the project’s southern node (covering the sub-tropical production zones of southern Queensland and parts of New South Wales), one day-neutral and two short-day cultivars were already with growers for on-farm trialling. Pending positive results, it was expected the cultivars would be available semi-commercially during 2017 and commercially in 2018.
Also as reported in last Hortlink, In the project’s northern node (representing the temperate production zones of Victoria, South Australia, some of New South Wales, and Tasmania), outputs of the project during 2016 included the commercial release of varieties ‘Parisienne Kiss’ and ‘Sundrench’.
If you missed it, you can read up on the project’s tissue-culture work on p3 of the March edition of Simply Red, produced under project BS15002, described below.
Facilitating the development of the Australian strawberry industry – national oversight and communications (BS15002)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Established during 2016, this project is facilitating the adoption of innovation and R&D within the strawberry industry through key communication channels.
It is linked to projects Facilitating the development of the Australian strawberry industry – sub-tropical regional delivery (BS15003) and Facilitating the development of the Australian strawberry industry – temperate regional delivery (BS15004). Combined, the development program is geared towards improving knowledge and skills, and supporting practice change to ensure the profitability and sustainability of the industry.
What’s the latest update? National project BS15002 continues to produce and maintain industry communication channels including:
The regional projects each continue to feed into the national program and deliver additional activities such as workshops, grower groups, farm walks, field days, study tours, case studies and industry analysis.
Specifically, BS15003 and BS15004 are responsible for funding the positions of industry development officers (IDOs) to carry out these activities.
The IDO for sub-tropical growing regions – Queensland, New South Wales and the northern growing areas of Western Australia – is Jennifer Rowling (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can read more about her work, including the collection of runner data that is part of both regional projects, in her profile at the bottom of this page.
The IDO for temperate growing regions – Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the southern growing areas of Western Australia – is Angela Atkinson (email@example.com). Recent activities facilitated by Angela include the Victorian Strawberry Forum, held on May 4 and 5 and including workshops, a farm walk, and networking opportunities.
Activities run by the IDOs are advertised in industry channels, including newsletters and the events section of the Strawberry Innovation website.
Strawberry industry minor use program (BS16001)
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 strawberry 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.
Improved management of charcoal rot of strawberry (BS15005)
Status: New project
What’s it all about? This project will help tackle charcoal rot, with the goal of reducing its occurrence and its related losses and costs for the Australian strawberry industry. It will investigate improved management approaches including chemical, biological and cultural options for the disease, which is caused by the fungus Macrophomina phaseolina and has symptoms including crown and root rot, plant wilting and yellowing of leaves (chlorosis).
What’s the latest update? With the project currently being contracted, more detailed updates will be provided in future editions of Hortlink.
Other R&D projects of note…
- 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 strawberry 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 strawberry industry is one of several involved in the project.
- Continuation of pilot systems to validate Pest Free Place of Production for Queensland fruit fly in the Yarra Valley (MT15028), which is currently wrapping up. The project has followed on from previous work to develop systems to validate ‘Pest Free Place of Production’ for Queensland fruit fly in the Yarra Valley, helping support market access for local growers by enabling trade of host fruits to several domestic markets without the need for costly treatment and certification. It has been supported by a number of industries.