See how the cherry levy is hard at work! Scroll down to learn about Hort Innovation’s current investment of the industry levy, and results from these investments, in the R&D and marketing snapshots – or click on a project name below to go straight to a specific 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 apple and pear R&D or marketing levy and, in the case of R&D, contributions from the Australian Government. In some projects, additional funding sources are also used.



Don’t forget to grab the Cherry Fund Annual Report

Released at the start of November, Hort Innovation’s Cherry Fund Annual Report sums up all levy investments and activities from 2016/17. You can download a copy here, or head to Hort Innovation’s Annual Report Portal to place an order for a free hard copy of the report.

What research do you want to see?

As always, Hort Innovation encourages all growers and industry participants to share their thoughts and ideas for the research they want to see – whether that’s within the industry-specific Cherry Fund (where research is funded by grower levies and Australian Government contributions), or within Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, Hort Frontiers (where research is funded through partnerships with co-investors).

Watch this video to see how ideas are collected and grown into projects, then submit your suggestions for new projects here.

Get closer to your investments with free membership

Hort Innovation membership brings you closer to the investment activities and results in your levy fund, and to the organisation as a whole. As well as providing the opportunity for voting rights at the company’s Annual General Meeting, membership helps you connect with your industry’s Relationship Manager, sends Hortlink straight to your inbox for first-look access, provides exclusive Grower Intel alerts with industry-specific news and opportunities, and more.

Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a member, so read more here and sign up now!

Find resources on the Hort Innovation Cherry Fund page…

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

  • Key documents including the Cherry Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier in 2017, and the Cherry Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the cherry Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met in mid-2017 and is due to meet again during May/June 2018
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including operating statements and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.
Any questions?

Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Mark Spees is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Cherry Fund program. He can be reached on 0439 574 173 or at



Review of host status of cherries for codling moth

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research

What was it all about? Beginning in early 2017, this short project was responsible for establishing the risk of codling moth in the cherry export pathway.

Currently, Japan and Korea apply strict entry requirements for cherries originating in areas where codling moth is found. But while the moth (Cydia pomonella) is a common pest of pome fruit, particularly apples and pears, evidence of cherries actually being a host has been scattered and unclear over the years. The researchers note that the primary basis on which cherries are considered a host of the pest is a publication from 1926, which described cherries infested with ‘codling-moth-like’ larvae.

The questionable host status of cherries for codling moth has been extensively studied, with this project bringing together existing and new research and data from Australia, New Zealand and the US that demonstrates:

  • Codling moths rarely enter cherry orchards, even when pome fruit orchards are nearby
  • Codling moths do not naturally lay eggs on cherry trees
  • Codling moth larvae do not survive on cherry fruit under field conditions
  • Only a small percentage of codling moth larvae survive on cherries under lab conditions
  • Adding even a small percentage of cherry to an artificial diet reduces larval survival
  • Codling moth are not found on packed cherry fruit.

While only Tasmanian cherries have access to Japan and Korea at this time, there are intensive trap and fruit inspections required as part of the codling moth protocol that can add significant costs for all involved. The requirements include pre-harvest inspections of 600 fruit, post-harvest inspections of one or two per cent of each consignment, and weekly inspection of more than one codling moth trap per hectare ha in export blocks, carried out by a government officer.

The researchers note that such requirements would be commercially unviable on the Australian east coast, considering that orchards are typically larger, distances further and biosecurity officers may not be available. And while access for fruit from these areas is currently denied due the presence of Queensland fruit fly, progress towards treatments for the fly means an agreement on a quarantine protocol could be coming closer.

With this in mind, the researchers conclude that “a strategy for codling moth that reflects true risk would be a significant benefit for trade. This would directly benefit Tasmania and potentially other cherry production areas into the future”.

The research also revealed…

  • Numbers of codling moth are well below the critical limit of seven moths per trap per week, as stipulated in the protocol for access to Korea
  • The current requirement for more than one codling moth trap per hectare is likely excessive, with codling moth populations able to be estimated using a rate of one trap per 21 hectares.

The project’s work is intended to open a discussion around these issues and help find a way to meet trading partners’ concerns while streamlining trade. It has been part of the Cherry Industry Market Access Program – a high-priority, combined initiative to increase market access for cherries that is providing management practices and evidential support for market-access negotiations.

It has also produced a report detailing research and information on codling moth, with the Review of host status of cherries for codling moth to be available on the Hort Innovation Cherry Fund page when finalised by the project team.

Methyl bromide disinfestation of cherries for Queensland fruit fly (Qfly)

Status: New project

Key research provider: NSW Department of Primary Industries

What’s it all about? This new project was contracted by Hort Innovation in October to provide data packages on the use of methyl bromide as a post-harvest disinfestation fumigant for Queensland fruit fly on cherries. This information will be used to help develop improved market access with commercially viable protocols.

Its work is part of the Cherry Industry Market Access Program – a high-priority, combined initiative to increase market access for cherries that is providing management practices and evidential support for market-access negotiations.

What’s the latest update? Earlier research has developed protocols for disinfestation of cherries from fruit flies using methyl bromide, on which this new work will build. With the project now getting into swing, the researchers will be identifying an optimal treatment combination that’s commercially viable for cherry market access; conducting commercial-size studies; and generating scientifically robust data packages.

Implementing brown sugar flotation (BSF) for assuring freedom of fruit from Qfly

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research

What’s it all about? This project will adapt, refine and enable implementation of brown sugar flotation testing for Queensland fruit fly at all appropriate control points in the cherry production chain. The developed testing protocol will be extended widely to all members of the cherry industry, including through illustrated guides. The protocol’s implementation as part of a systems approach will allow assessment of the successful performance of fruit fly control measures, to ultimately support exports.

This project is part of the Cherry Industry Market Access Program – a high-priority, combined initiative to increase market access for cherries that will provide management practices and evidential support for market-access negotiations.

What’s the latest update? A draft protocol for brown sugar flotation testing has been produced, based on earlier levy-funded work in the project Evaluating the brown sugar flotation method for testing cherries for Queensland fruit fly (CY14009).

Sugar flotation procedures have been used for many years to separate insects from other substrates, and this earlier work confirmed brown sugar flotation as an effective, quick and robust test for detecting Qfly (and Medfly) infestation along the cherry supply chain.

The protocol was tested in the lab during November and at the time of writing, testing was to be carried out at a number of orchard throughout December.

Once thoroughly tested, a detailed protocol will be finalised and sent to growers and packers. It will cover everything from the basic materials and equipment required for testing, to how to examine the brown-sugar solution – including an identification guide for various insects and larvae – and how to keep appropriate records.

Export readiness and market access

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Cherry Growers Australia

What’s it all about? Beginning in mid-2017, this project is supporting the export readiness of the Australian cherry industry. It is:

  • Assisting in designing training materials and events for growers, packers and exporters on the requirements for export to markets of interest
  • Facilitating the registration and audit of export facilities
  • Developing and implementing a monitoring and management program for a range of pests and disease of quarantine concern.

The project is also responsible for maintaining a biosecurity management plan and the industry’s export manual, facilitating in-bound visits from trade markets, supporting industry attendance at international trade shows, and delivering an export strategy detailing market access, improvement and development priorities, among other goals.

It is part of the Cherry Industry Market Access Program – a high-priority, combined initiative to increase market access for cherries that will provide management practices and evidential support for market-access negotiations.

What’s the latest update? With mainland-grown Australian cherries recently granted access to Vietnam and China, the activities of this project will have a role in supporting growers in taking advantage of both new and existing export opportunities.

Upcoming export workshops for registered growers will be advertised in industry channels as details become available. The 2017 workshops were held mid-year in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, and includes a debrief on the 2016 season; information on export requirements and registrations; and updates on export pathways and treatment research. Details were given on all markets where Australia cherries have access, giving growers a full picture of where cherries can be sent and by what means. Following the workshops, registrations were received and lodged by the project team. A similar approach will be taken for the coming year’s workshops.

The project also delivered the 2017 Cherry Export Manual, which was distributed at the export workshops and through industry channels. The updated manual detailed all market access pathways available, as well as comprehensive maximum residue limit (MRL) information to guide growers in details of how to treat for pest and diseases of concern when exporting to particular markets.


As well as accessing the Cherry Export Manual (including future updated versions), you can also request a copy of the cherry industry’s Biosecurity Management Program (BMP) from Cherry Growers Australia – contact Tom Eastlake at, or the general Cherry Growers Association office on (03) 6231 1229 or at The BMP was updated for this season under the project, including with updated International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) sheets for orchards.

Developing market access to the US for cherries based on irradiation and methyl bromide

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: NSW Department of Primary Industries

What’s it all about? This project is investigating and reporting on opening market access for Australian cherries into the US, based on using irradiation and methyl bromide as end-point treatments. Its work is a component of the Cherry Industry Market Access Program – a high-priority, combined initiative to increase market access for cherries that will provide management practices and evidential support for market-access negotiations.

What’s the latest update? The project team have been looking at potential US market barriers and developing a literature review. Look for more details in the future edition of Hortlink and in industry channels as they become available from the researchers.

Australian cherry evaluation utilising precocious rootstocks

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Cherry Growers Association of South Australia

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2013, this project is evaluating cherry varieties that were developed in the industry’s breeding program (there are current 130 breeding lines of interest to be evaluated). The lines are being assessed on the most promising precocious rootstocks currently available to the Australian cherry industry to unlock their potential. The research is working towards providing new, well-adapted varieties and information on preferred rootstock combinations to increase profitability and a competitive advantage for Australian growers.

What’s the latest update? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, the project’s evaluation orchard in the Adelaide Hills is growing the new varieties on three rootstocks: the industry’s two most promising precocious rootstocks, Gisela 6 and Krymsk 5, and industry standard Mazzard F12/1, which is poorly precocious. The new varieties are being compared to 11 commonly available ones, including Lapins, Merchant, Stella and Simone.

The first significant crop will be produced in the 2017/18 season, allowing for evaluations. Look for updates in future editions of Hortlink.


Watch this video overview of the project, which was produced as part of the levy-funded industry communications project described below.

Review of the National Biosecurity Plan for the cherry industry and development of a biosecurity manual for cherry producers

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Plant Health Australia

What’s it all about? To help industry remain aware of biosecurity threats, and assist in biosecurity preparedness and capability, this project is…

  • Updating the Cherry Industry Biosecurity Plan. This plan is a top-level document that identifies and reviews exotic pest and disease threats to the cherry industry, and provides a strategic framework for industry and government to work together to improve preparedness for and response to these key biosecurity threats.
  • Reviewing the industry’s Orchard Biosecurity Manual. This will provide growers with information on high-priority pests and diseases, and on-farm biosecurity activities that can be implemented.

This work is part of the Cherry Industry Market Access Program – a high-priority, combined initiative to increase market access for cherries that will provide management practices and evidential support for market-access negotiations.

What’s the latest update? As per the last edition of Hortlink, the project is continuing to build draft content for the plan, including identifying key threats based on potential for entry, establishment, spread and economic impact. Among these threats are plum pox virus, brown rot, European canker and a range of insect pests. When all sections and drafts for the Biosecurity Plan are completed, the document will be circulated to industry and government for endorsement. Look for updates in future editions of Hortlink.

Improving fruit quality and consistency in cherries through maximised nutrient availability

Status: Near-completed project

Key research provider: Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2012 and now due to conclude, this five-year Tasmanian project has been investigating whether soil microbiology can be utilised to maximise the availability and uptake of plant nutrients – essentially improving soil health to in turn boost crop yields and fruit quality.

What’s the latest update? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, this project has involved two trial sites in Tasmania – one in the Derwent Valley and one in Nicholls Rivulet. Both have been looking at the effects of conventional and alternative nutrient management, with the alternative treatment including humates with combined minerals, and the application of ‘effective microbes’ (a mix of about 80 different species of beneficial microorganisms).

Although the trial sites have different soil types and cherry varieties (Lapins versus Sweetheart and Staccato), they have shown similar trends to date, including a higher percentage of A-grade fruit and a reduction in cherry cracking from the alternative treatments.

At the time of last reporting, the treatments had led to no discernible effect on fruit set, weight or diameter, while flesh firmness and the force required to puncture the fruit skin were reduced by the alternative regimens in Lapins – though these were increased in Staccato.

With a final report due to Hort Innovation in the near future, look for a complete project wrap-up in an upcoming edition of Hortlink.

Cherry industry minor use program

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 cherry 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 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.

Cherry communications program

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Coretext

What’s it all about? This program is focused on maintaining and improving strong communication with cherry growers and other industry stakeholders. It works to supply timely industry news, R&D updates, marketing outcomes and other key information so that growers are able to make informed decisions as new opportunities and challenges arise.

This program is supported by the project Cherry communications support (CY16003), which provides funding to Cherry Growers 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:


Use the above links to access levy-funded communications. If you don’t currently receive the Cherry Newsletter, sign up using the ‘Join our mailing list’ button here.

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 cherry reports are made available for download here, in the resources section of Hort Innovation’s Cherry Fund page.
  • 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 cherry industry is one of several involved in the project.
Cherry levy investment in Hort Frontiers projects… 

What is Hort Frontiers?

Hort Frontiers is Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, formerly known as ‘Pool 2’. It is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects that endeavour to solve major and often complex challenges crucial to securing the future of Australian horticulture. Hort Frontiers projects are funded via a combination of Australian Government funding and co-investments brokered and managed by Hort Innovation. Co-investors range from research institutes to commercial partners, and can also include individual levy industries.

How is the cherry industry involved?

Cherry levy has been co-invested in the Hort Frontiers project Global Masterclass in Horticultural Business (LP15001). This project is part of the Hort Frontiers Leadership Fund, with the apple and pear levy supporting six scholarships across all key growing regions, for industry levy-payers to take part in the 2018 Masterclass in Horticultural Business course. The Masterclass is a unique offering designed to grow participants’ business and leadership skills – you can watch a short video on it and learn more here.

Applications for the 2018 scholarships were advertised in industry channels and closed in November.



Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the cherry marketing levy into a range of activities to grow awareness and consumption, under the Hort Innovation Cherry Fund. Below is an at-a-glance look at some of the most recent activity. Look out for the more in-depth feature on the industry’s marketing activities, scheduled for the summer 2017/18 edition of the levy-funded Cherry magazine.


A new domestic marketing strategy

The cherry industry’s new domestic marketing strategy was developed in collaboration with cherry growers and professional marketers with sound industry knowledge and experience and expertise in reaching a range of audiences. The new key messages that have been formulated as part of the strategy will be tested over the coming months to see what resonates best with consumers.

Retailer engagement – a key pillar of the marketing strategy

Key aspects of the marketing strategy revolve around in-store promotion, point-of-sale advertising, and in-store sampling. In particular, to leverage the common consumer trend of cherries being an impulse buy, a three-week in-store program with Woolworths was launched in November. It included quality displays of cherries in-store (a key purchasing driver) and engaged customers via sampling. This activity has been supported by point-of-sale advertising, with more than 500,000 cherry bags have been delivered to all states to support launches across the different Woolworths store locations.

State-based promotions

State-based promotions have so far seen a range of location-specific activities…

  • New South Wales: The first cherry-case auction to launch the season was held at Sydney Markets on November 7, and a two-day ‘Season Launch’ event was held in Young on November 4, in collaboration with the NSW Cherry Growers Association.
  • Queensland: Activity has and will include tasting events in ‘Your Local Fruit Shop’ stores, via Brismark’s Retailer Program, plus social media, digital advertising and e-newsletters targeting key household grocery buyers.
  • South Australia: Season activities will involve an ambassador program encouraging foodies and influencers to promote Australian Cherries via social media. Useability of the Cherry Map App will also be enhanced to boost ‘pick your own’ sales. This activity is facilitated through the Cherry Growers Association of SA.
  • Tasmania: Once again, there is industry involvement in the Tasmanian Farm Gate Guide, plus ads on WIN television and a ‘Get Fruity’ campaign under Fruit Growers Tasmania’s partner organisation ‘Eat Well Tasmania’.
  • Victoria: Point-of-sale kits have been distributed to key retail markets, plus there’s been an update of a cherry fact sheet on the VCA website, including Victorian Cherry Trail information and Sweet Cherries Health Report. A media release has been sent to influencers, Melbourne Markets and marketing managers at the four main retail markets and media tours have been conducted with key influencers to give a hands-on experience.
  • Western Australia: This state-based program has engaged with influential WA media, distributed point-of-sale material to retail stores, and activated demonstrator-led sampling events in independent stores, including point-of-sale installs.



Advice from growers has seen an increase in levy expenditure across the new ‘Taste Australia’ retail program in the following markets:

  • Hong Kong
  • Vietnam
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia

Through this increased expenditure, strong marketing support helped to launch the Taste Australia campaign into Hong Kong for the first time, to support the priorities of the cherry industry. Campaign elements across all new markets have included activated social media, point-of-sale kits, sampling, launch events and retailer training.

For any questions relating to the Cherry Fund marketing activities, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Dianne Phan at

Print page