ALMOND FUND SNAPSHOT

Almond

See how the almond levy is being put to work! Scroll down to learn about Hort Innovation’s current investment of the industry levy, and results from these investments, in the R&D snapshot – or click on a project below to go straight to its update. Also look for the ‘ACT NOW’ tag to easily identify project resources ready to use.

All projects are funded by Hort Innovation using the almond R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government. In some projects, additional funding sources are also used.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

Look out for the new Hort Innovation Almond Fund logo

You may have noticed there’s been a little snipping to the name and logo of Hort Innovation recently. Because you’ve come to know us as simply ‘Hort Innovation’, that’s what we’re now officially called.

Almond growers and stakeholders will also notice the introduction of a handy new logo specific to the almond industry. You can now look for the ‘Hort Innovation Almond Fund’ logo (pictured below) to quickly and easily identify projects, content and other outputs related to the strategic investment of your levy from here on out.

You can read more about the slight changes at www.horticulture.com.au.

On the Hort Innovation Almond Fund page…

Along with Hortlink, Hort Innovation’s webpage for almond levy payers is a great source of info. On it you’ll find:

  • The Almond Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier this year.
  • The latest meeting notes from the almond Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met on August 9 in Loxton, South Australia, and are due to meet again during February 2018.
  • Financial documents regarding your levy, including operating statements and expenditure summaries for R&D projects.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.
Any questions?

Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Corrine Jasper is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Almond Fund program. She can be reached on 0439 433 885 or at corrine.jasper@horticulture.com.au.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Pollination as a controlling factor in almond yield (AL14004)

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: CSIRO and others, including Australian National University

What was it all about? At the conclusion of the project, the researchers produced the following project summary for Hortlink….

Almond trees require pollination to produce nuts. Less is known regarding how pollination interacts with other resource constraints to determine quantity and quality of nut production. This project’s CSIRO research team has conducted a three-year study to observe almond trees’ responses to consistently high levels of pollination (achieved by spraying pollen). This research has shown that almond trees that experience higher pollination rates produce more nuts, and that trade-offs at the spur level are very small.

Firstly, the researchers wanted to determine if resource availability such as light and leaf area influenced flowering and fruiting at the spur level. Data gathered at the spur level is useful for understanding the potential mechanisms behind resource trade-offs when scaling up to the whole tree level. Each season the team tagged, hand pollinated, and followed flower spurs in different positions in the tree canopy to observe pollination effects at the spur level.

The data confirmed what the research team had expected, in that spurs in higher light environments supported more nuts. Interestingly, production of a large number of nuts did not lead to smaller nuts. That is, there was no detectable size versus nut number trade-off at the spur level.

Secondly, pollen was collected from bee hives and applied in suspension (with boron added to support pollen viability) onto flowers, across entire trees, to simulate maximum whole-tree pollination. Trees were sprayed twice, at 45 to 65 per cent and again at 90 to 100 per cent bloom.

The researchers found that whole tree pollination using sprayed pollen raised whole tree yield above that of non-treated trees by up to 15 per cent in some, but not all years. The relationship between pollination and fruiting depended on the light environment in that part of the canopy.

This research was designed to answer important questions about constraints to nut production, and how they interact with pollination. However, all the experiments conducted in the study strongly indicated that increasing pollination rates will increase yield, without compromising quality.

ACT NOW
   The recommendations for growers from the research work is that maximising flower production is the foundation for boosting nut production under current pollination practices. Even though there may appear to be ‘surplus’ flowers, the data shows that on average spurs with more flowers make more fruit. Orchard management strategies that decrease self-shading will lead to greater nut production when combined with ample pollination. The researchers found that high light availability to spurs increased the conversion of pollinated flowers into fruit, even though it did not increase flower number.

Australian almond industry conferences and field days 2017-2021 (AL16700)

Status: New project

Key research provider: Almond Board of Australia

What’s it all about? This project will support industry events to help almond growers and supply chain participants improve knowledge, adopt new practices and ultimately enhance their businesses. These events include:

  • The biennial Australian Almond Conference – a three-day event with participants from across the supply chain, along with researchers, international delegates and service providers.
  • The annual Australian Almond R&D Forum & Field Day for growers, providing information on past and current levy-funded research.

ACT NOW
   Registrations for the 2017 R&D Forum & Field Day are now open. The event is to be held on October 24 to 25 in Loxton, South Australia, with the full program and registration details available here.

Almond industry statistics and data collection 2017-2019 (AL16003)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Almond Board of Australia

What’s it all about?  This project collects industry statistics and makes them readily available to growers and other industry stakeholders. This information is intended to allow almond businesses and the broader industry to make timely and effective decisions in planning and resource prioritisation.

What’s the latest update? Specific project activities include:

  • Production of the annual statistics report, Almond Insights see the 2016/17 Almond Insights report here. Completed in June this year, key statistics from the report include:
    • 2016 crop production was 82,333 tonnes based on kernel weight
    • 4,904 hectares were planted in 2016, an increase of 15.8 per cent
    • Current orchard area is 35,886 hectares, with over 10 million trees
    • Almond export value for 2016 marketing year was $434 million
  • Ongoing collection of domestic and international almond statistics, disseminated through the In A Nutshell industry newsletter
  • Annual Almond Planting Surveys. Look for updates on the 2017 survey in industry channels in the near future.

Management of Carpophilus beetle in almonds (AL15004)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

What’s it all about? This project was established in 2016 in response to industry concern about the impact and management of Carpophilus beetles in almond production, after confirmation that the beetles were present in almost 70 per cent of almond plantings. The project is developing a cost-effective management system to control the pest, without increasing secondary pest issues.

Its work includes investigating the potential of the Carpophilus Attract & Kill system for use in almonds (currently used in stone-fruit orchards), and developing an understanding of the biology, ecology and distribution of Carpophilus species in almonds.

What’s the latest update? Among the research for the 2016/17 season, the researchers looked at…

  • Species abundance. Carpophilus near dimidiatus is known to be the main Carpophilus species causing damage in almond orchards. Upon inspection of more than 2800 trap samples, the species was found to be less abundant in the early part of the season, but became the most abundant species just prior to hull split. Peak populations in mummies were also found in January, just before hull splitting. The researchers noted that Carpophilus infestation of almonds generally occurs during and after hull split.
  • Overwintering behaviour of Carpophilus. This work demonstrated the importance of mummies in survival over winter, and also in population build-up over spring and in early summer. The researchers noted that the extraction of high numbers of larvae and adults from mummies makes orchard hygiene of particular importance. An initial observation was that if possible, sweeping the orchard floor immediately after the placement of Attract & Kill traps in October and November may provide benefit by not only reducing the population through nut removal, but also by creating a disturbance that forces many beetles out of mummies to find better hiding spots (like the traps).

The project team have also been developing a morphological key for the identification of the three main Carpophilus species – Carpophilus near dimidiatus, Carpophilus hemipterus and Carpophilus davidsoni – as well as Carpophilus larvae.

ACT NOW
   Take note of the mummy nut advice above, and download the project-produced fact sheet Managing Carpophilus Beetle in Almonds for current monitoring and Attract & Kill guidelines. Key points of the resource are that…

  • Almonds are most vulnerable to attack from Carpophilus beetle during hull split
  • Pheromone and co-attractant are much less effective when used separately rather than in combination
  • High priority blocks to monitor are likely to include those that experience excessive moisture retention and humidity
  • It’s suggested that growers start with at least one trap per orchard block (approximately 20 ha)
  • Carpophilus starts to become active and able to fly to traps as temperatures increase in late winter/early spring.

Better tree performance and water use efficiency through root system resilience (AL13009)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: CSIRO

What’s it all about? Established in 2014 and due for completion in 2019, this project is being conducted as part of a coordinated research program into boosting almond productivity and profitability. It aims to support more informed rootstock choice, more efficient irrigation strategies and more efficient use of nutrition.

What’s the latest update? To date…

  • The project has screened 17 rootstocks for resilience to soil-water deficit and high soil conductivity. With the results expected to be made available to industry in the near future, the project is now moving to place emphasis on glasshouse and young-tree studies of root function.
  • Field experiments continue to look at root function under different irrigation and nutrition regimens, with the researchers studying root phenology, growth and turnover using regular photographic imaging.
  • Field experiments have also used sap-flow sensors on some of the trees, to monitor whole-season tree water use. In combination with tree canopy and yield data, this will allow whole-tree water-use efficiency to be determined and linked with irrigation and nutrient treatments.

Development of high health status mother planting for new Australian almond varieties (AL16004)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Almond Board of Australia

What’s it all about? Beginning in March this year, this project relates to the Australian almond variety evaluation and commercialisation program (AL12015). It is responsible for helping deliver evaluated and commercialised new varieties to the Australian almond industry.

What’s the latest update? As always, project AL12015 has been thoroughly evaluating new almond varieties, which have been developed with improved production characteristics – being high-yielding, with self-fertility, improved disease tolerance, closed shells and desirable visual and eating qualities. The University of Adelaide is the service provider for this area of work.

Meanwhile, project AL16004 is set to help provide the earliest possible access to newly commercialised varieties from project AL12015. It is currently establishing mother plantings of virus-tested and true-to-type new trees, which will enable high-health-status budwood material to be provided to nurseries for grafting. Two sites have been set up to this end – one at Monash and a newly prepared site at Loxton, South Australia – with planting commencing during August.

The project’s provision of clonal material that is as close as possible to the original generation from the industry’s breeding program will ensure trees of reliable performance are available as the foundation of new orchard plantings.

Identifying factors that influence spur productivity in almond (AL14005)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

What’s it all about? Established in 2015, this project is being conducted as part of a coordinated research program into boosting almond productivity and profitability. Because yield fluctuations are not well understood, this project is advancing understanding of the physiological factors that drive productivity/determine fruit and kernel yield from season to season. It’s investigating the behaviour of fruiting spurs of Nonpareil and Carmel almond cultivars, and is looking at environmental and management factors including tree architecture, light interception, irrigation and nutrition.

What’s the latest update? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, the project is tracking the fate of individual spurs in trial trees over multiple years and under a variety of management conditions, to describe the factors that influence a spur’s longevity, and to develop better ways to manage orchards. The collection and analysis of data continues, with Nonpareil trees in the study harvested in late February this year, and Carmel trees harvested in late March.

ACT NOW
   If you haven’t seen them already, the below posters summarise first-year data from the project and analysis methods used…

Managing almond production in a variable and changing climate (AL14006)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: South Australian Research and Development Institute

What’s it all about? Commencing in 2015 and expected to conclude in 2019, this project is conducting a detailed analysis of climate data in order to assess and prioritise key climate risks for the main almond growing regions in Australia. These risks include heat waves, droughts, untimely rainfall and insufficient chilling units of cold weather. The project will also suggest options for managing these risks.

As well as almond levy and Australian Government contributions, this project involves co-investment from the South Australian River Murray Sustainability Program Industry-Led Research Sub-Program.

What’s the latest update? Broadly, the project continues to investigate management options for key climate risks, and continues to develop tools for almond businesses to make decisions around these management options.

Among its work…

  • The project continues to monitor the relationship between ‘meso-climates’, almond phenology, kernel yield and kernel quality across four orchards. Looking at the meso-climates within the orchards (that is, the climates unique to and within the orchards), the researchers report that findings from the 2017 harvest are similar to those from 2015, rather than 2016. This year, like in 2015, the lowest elevation ‘meso-sites’ within orchards generally had cooler temperatures and higher yields. The researchers note there are insufficient years of data to determine if this is due to weather/climate, orchard management, or other factors, such as a low-level of biennial bearing.
  • The project continues to look at using temperature to determine the time from full flowering to commencement of hull split. A model developed in California for this predicted hull split earlier than it did occur, and further refinement to suit Australian conditions is needed.
  • The project is investigating passive heating of almonds – using passive solar heating in pot-based experiments to provide further info on the relationship between temperature, phenology and yield.

Australian almond industry innovation and adoption program (AL16001)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Almond Board of Australia

What’s it all about? Contracted in February this year, this project will help deliver technical advice to growers, facilitate the adoption of R&D, and identify and develop initiatives to address capacity-building requirements of the industry.

What’s the latest update? The project supports the roles and activities of Almond Board of Australia industry development manager Andrew Downs (adowns@australianalmonds.com.au) and industry development officers Brett Rosenzweig (brosenzweig@australianalmonds.com.au) and Josh Fielke (jfielke@australianalmonds.com.au).

The project team has been working on a plan for activities during 2017, and has begun rolling them out. At a broad level, project work has and will include:

  • Industry fields days, workshops and training initiatives, which will be advertised in industry channels and include input into the 2017 R&D Forum & Field Day
  • Input into the industry communications program, described below
  • Production of fact sheets to take knowledge from projects to growers
  • Face-to-face and other direct engagements with industry participants
  • Establishment and management of demonstration plantings at the Almond Centre for Excellence, to promote best practise
  • Engagement across a range of R&D and industry committees.

Australian almond industry communications program (AL16000)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Almond Board of Australia

What’s it all about? This program continues to provide a broad range of timely information to Australian almond growers and other industry stakeholders, to keep the almond community well informed and in a place to make improved business decisions.

What’s the latest update? Communication channels that are produced and maintained by the program include the In A Nutshell quarterly industry newsletter, the industry website (www.australianalmonds.com.au) and its grower/levy payers’ portal (www.growing.australianalmonds.com.au). The project is also responsible for producing media releases promoting key research findings and events, and utilises social media (Facebook and Twitter), video and face-to-face communications.

ACT NOW
   In addition to the above, check out these recent resources produced by the project…

Almond minor use permit program (AL16002)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Hort Innovation

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 almond 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 to our membership program for free here.

Almond productivity: Tree architecture and development of new growing systems (AL14007)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Plant & Food Research Australia

What’s it all about? Established in 2014 and due for completion in 2019, this project is being conducted as part of a coordinated research program into boosting almond productivity and profitability. It has a specific focus on tree architecture and the development of new growing systems.

What’s the latest update? Field trials in the project are ongoing, and involve pruning and light management studies. 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.

Advanced processing of almonds (AL12003)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: University of South Australia

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2013, this project supports:

  • Research into effective aeration and dehydration of bulk almonds in silos, bunkers and sheds, which is being undertaken by a PhD student
  • Research into the effective hulling of almonds in-field and during processing, as well as the improved cracking of almonds, being conducted by a post-doc Research Fellow
  • Work into technologies to sense temperatures of almonds and their waste in stockpiles; to yield map almond pick-up in the orchards; to compare methods of storing bulk almonds; and to develop almond hulling, cracking and cleaning equipment – with this work involving final-year mechanical engineering and electrical engineering students.

What’s the latest update? With no new project report due since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1), revisit last edition’s update here. It details the project’s system for on-farm dehydration and rehydration, and looks at other equipment and processing the researchers are developing, involving on-farm impact hulling and improved shelling.

Other R&D projects of note…

  • Horticulture trade intelligence reporting 2017-2019 (MT16011), which is responsible for providing easy-to-read and easy-to-act-upon trade performance information to Australia’s horticulture industry. Quarterly almond reports will be made available for download through the Hort Innovation website, with the first report released in July. Read more and access it here.
  • 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. It builds upon the previous National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MY12011), and includes upgrading sentinel hive arrays, strengthening relationships with surveillance operators, the introduction of new elements such as Asian hornet screening and more. The surveillance will enable the early detection of high-priority pest incursions that can impact on honey bees, providing the best opportunity for successful pest eradication. The almond industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.
  • Almond study tour (AL16701), which supports industry relationship building, knowledge sourcing and collaboration with international almond industries by funding study tours for key industry representatives. The 2017/18 tour program involves visits to California, Spain, Belgium and Germany, with learning to be shared in industry channels.
Print page

2017-09-13T11:54:54+00:00