Evaluation of dried and table grape varieties (MT15026)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Underway since 2016, this multi-industry project will deliver new grape varieties for both the table grape and dried grape industries. For table grapes, new varieties adapted to local conditions will enable Australia to differentiate its products in international markets, enhance export opportunities and increase domestic consumption. The new varieties will reduce production costs and minimise issues such as berry collapse in Thompson seedless, as well as poor budburst and low fruit bearing in sub-tropical regions. Early and late ripening types, and those with favourable long-term storage and transport characteristics, will also extend the season and provide opportunities to develop new markets.
What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1). At the time of last reporting, for table grapes, recent work in the project had included the establishment of a new regional test site on a commercial property in Emerald, Queensland. Here, 11 promising selections (five white, two red and three black) had been planted as own-rooted vines and also grafted on five different rootstocks (1103 Paulsen, 140 Ruggeri, Freedom, 101-14 and SO4).
Earlier in 2016 there had also been the planting of selections in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. These vines had since been trained and fully established on trellis systems, and were expected to produce significant crops during the 2016/17 season.
These regional test sites will enable the evaluation of the planted selections, to assess their performance in different environments and their suitability to meet specific industry and consumer expectations.
At the time of last reporting, there had also been the grafting of 12 further table grape selections onto Ramsey rootstock across trial plots at CSIRO’s facility in Irymple, Victoria. Establishment of these selections will enable evaluation to be conducted under near-commercial conditions, with promising selections to be included in future regional and commercial test sites.
Across the project’s various trial sites, the researchers reported there had been implementation of vine management strategies to enhance fruit quality of selections. These strategies included gibberellic acid (GA) treatments for berry thinning, rachis stretching and berry sizing; bunch thinning and trimming; and leaf removal in the bunch zone.
Export market access, maintenance, biosecurity and developing export markets for the Australian table grape industry (TG14000)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project aims to improve and maintain market access for Australian table grapes in overseas markets. A key focus is direct engagement with growers and exporters to develop export readiness and industry knowledge, and engagement with existing, new and potential markets and importers.
What’s the latest update? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1), activities under this project that continue to develop export readiness for table grape growers include the delivery of export protocol workshops and training. New online, self-paced training on pest-monitoring, for example, is being rolled out in the coming months.
There is also the continued delivery of tools, such as the industry’s new online export registration and mapping system. Available at www.australiangrapes.com.au/export-registration and continuing to be enhanced, the online system enables growers to register table grape properties for accreditation to export to Asian markets, replacing the old paper-based registration and accreditation process.
Other project activities include:
- Developing an export manual
- Organising and coordinating strategic importer tours
- Provision of market intelligence and export statistics to growers
- Market-access activities, such as industry participation in strategic meetings with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and relevant state government authorities, as well as attendance at strategic trade shows such as Asia Fruit Logistica and the China Fruit and Vegetable Fair at the end of 2016. The table grape industry also had a presence at the Gulfood expo held in Dubai at the end of February.
Australian table grape industry communications project (TG15008)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Established in 2016, this project continues to maintain and improve communication to Australian table grape growers and other industry stakeholders. By keeping the industry up-to-date on R&D and marketing activities, news, events and other critical information, its ultimate goal is to help the industry tackle issues, and to support decision-making and the uptake of new research and technologies within table grape businesses.
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:
- Quarterly magazine The Vine, distributed to industry stakeholders and also available online at www.australiangrapes.com.au/the-vine-magazine (The Vine is a joint magazine between the table grape and dried fruit industries)
- The Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA) website, www.australiangrapes.com.au, which is updated regularly
- Regular e-newsletters from ATGA
- ATGA social media channels including Facebook, Twitter (@ATGAHortnetwork) and LinkedIn
- Annual grower forums and other industry events.
Table grape industry minor use program (TG16000)
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 table grape 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.
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 for download through the Hort Innovation website, with the first table grape report expected to be made available on the table grape grower page in the near future.
- 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 table grape industry is one of several involved in the project.
- Cold disinfestation verification trials for table grape access to Japan (TG11013), which has recently concluded. Results will be shared with industry as they become available.
Table grape 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 table grape industry involved?
Table grape 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.