Accelerating development of the Australian custard apple industry, new variety development and commercialisation phase 2 (CU13001)
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 www.horticulture.com.au/about/resources-publications-final-reports. 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, industry.custardapple.com.au.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 www.freshproducelink.com.au 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 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.