Custard apple

See how the custard apple 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.

All projects are funded by Hort Innovation using the custard apple 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 Custard Apple Fund Annual Report

Released at the start of November, Hort Innovation’s Custard Apple 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 Custard Apple 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 Custard Apple Fund page…

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

  • Key documents including the Custard Apple Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier in 2017, and the Custard Apple Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the custard apple Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met in early 2017 and will next convene in late December 2017 or early January 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 Astrid Hughes is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Custard Apple Fund program. She can be reached on 0405 306 334 or at



Accelerating development of the Australian custard apple industry, new variety development and commercialisation phase 2

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

What was it about? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, this now-completed investment aimed to accelerate the development of the Australian custard apple industry by providing better varieties and rootstocks, better crop management techniques and extension of technologies to new and existing growers.

Hort Innovation is currently contracting a new iteration of the project to carry on these activities, to be designated New custard apple varieties and enhanced industry productivity (CU16002). Look out for more on this in future editions of Hortlink and in industry channels.

Regarding varieties and rootstocks in project CU13001…

  • With green-skin varieties developed in the previous phase of the project, in this phase there was a key focus on breeding and commercialisation of red-skinned varieties with low seed number, good fruit set and good flavour.
  • Some 3000 seedlings with red- and green-skinned parents were assessed during the project, with new selections progressing to grower testing sites. Two red-skin selections advanced to the small-scale grower testing phase (selections 649-1 and 591), with this work still ongoing and to be continued by the project’s new iteration. The research team have reported that feedback from both growers and marketers in relation to 649-1 has been “extremely positive”, with an update provided in the winter 2017 edition of The Custard Apple newsletter. Two green-skin selections advanced to large-scale testing. Again, this work will be ongoing through new project CU16002.
  • The project progressed the use of genetic techniques for selecting and breeding varieties based on skin colour and fruit set.
  • Clonal variety and rootstock trials were established during the course of the project, using elite selections from the breeding program. Due to the juvenility of the trials, recommendations for rootstocks and varieties in the various growing regions of Australia cannot yet be made, but work will continue through CU16002.

Regarding crop management…

  • The project was responsible for staying on top of new emerging pests and diseases for the Australian custard apple industry, with three pests and two diseases added to the industry’s integrated pest and disease manual as a result, including the common auger beetle (Xylopsocus gibbicollis), tree root weevil (Leptopius robustus) and branch dieback disease (caused by Lasiodiplodia). The information added to the manual includes identification, monitoring and control options.
  • Chemical efficacy trials were completed, evaluating insecticide application for the control of mealybug, and fungicide application for the control of purple blotch. Information was incorporated into the integrated pest and disease manual.

Regarding extension, as reported in the last Hortlink the project completed a series of grower field days, regional tours, individual farm visits and resources including manuals and videos. Regular updates were also provided in The Custard Apple newsletter, including the ‘What to do over the next three months’ series of articles.

Full details are available in the project’s final report, which will soon be available to order at Final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies. Not a member? Sign up to our membership program for free here.


Download the integrated pest and disease manual updated by the project. A video on postharvest management of custard apples is also expected to be released shortly – look out for it in industry channels and the next edition of Hortlink.

Custard apple communication and extension program (CU16001)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Custard Apples Australia

What’s it all about? This program supports industry awareness and uptake of R&D outcomes and other relevant knowledge. This is primarily delivered through field days/roadshows in each of the country’s growing regions. These events bring to growers information on fruit quality, orchard management and post-harvest systems and practices; support growers in adding value to their businesses; and keep all stakeholders up to date with the latest issues relevant to the custard apple industry.

The project also facilitates other regular communication channels to Australia’s custard apple industry.

What’s the latest update? In addition to face-to-face events, communication channels that continue to be produced and maintained by the project include…

  • Quarterly newsletter The Custard Apple, available in print and digital form
  • Regular email updates from Custard Apples Australia
  • The industry website,

The last face-to-face was held in October, at Patti Stacey’s property in northern New South Wales. It included updates and information from researcher Grant Bignell, from the team on project CU13001 described above, plus pruning demonstrations, updates on the Custard Fund program and more.


Look for updates on the next lot of activity to be circulated in industry channels as they become available. You can also contact Patti Stacey from Custard Apples Australia, at, for information.

Custard Apple Dispatch System 2 – CADS 2 (CU15000)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: GFAP Pty Ltd

What’s it all about? The Custard Apple Dispatch System (CADS) allows registered growers to generate and transmit dispatch advices electronically, and wholesalers and exporters to enter and transmit payback prices electronically. It also allows for reporting at grower and industry levels. The CADS 2 project, which began in 2016, is responsible for upgrading the system and continuing its administration.


The CADS is accessible via with an allocated username and password.

Custard apple industry minor use program (CU16000)

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 custard apple 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, 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.



Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the custard apple marketing levy into a range of activities to grow awareness and consumption, under the Hort Innovation Custard Apple Fund. Hort Innovation is currently working with industry to develop a plan of activities for the upcoming season, which build on the success of the industry’s consumer-focused social media and PR campaign (summarised in the last edition of Hortlink here).

Pending industry advice and further analysis of the 2017 campaign’s strengths, the next season’s campaign will expand on the provenance messaging with farmer profiles, grower updates and beautiful images of custard apples. If you have any images, please send them through to the industry’s marketing manager at Hort Innovation, Astrid Hughes (also the custard apple relationship manager), at

Further details on the marketing plan will be available in the next edition of Hortlink.

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