Dried grape

See how the dried grape 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 dried grape 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 Dried Grape Fund Annual Report

Released at the start of November, Hort Innovation’s Dried Grape 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 Dried Grape 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 Dried Grape Fund page…

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

  • Key documents including the Dried Grape Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier in 2017, and the Dried Grape Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the dried grape Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met on October 4, 2017 in Mildura, and is due to meet again in early 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 Management Lead Will Gordon is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Almond Fund program. He can be reached on 0427 920 924 or at will.gordon@horticulture.com.au.



Dried grape 2017 industry R&D exchange program

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: Dried Fruits Australia

What was it all about? This short project supported an industry study tour, completed in September, which allowed Australian dried grape producers to gain first-hand research knowledge and insights from the United States, which is currently the world’s leading producer of dried grapes.

The project facilitated the organisation of the tour, and subsidised grower participation. The tour group visited a range of facilities and organisations to talk to leaders in research, on-farm production, processing and packaging. Among the highlights, the group saw a new self-drying variety that could reduce labour costs, saw opportunities for automation of vineyard operations, and were updated on collaborative research into vine physiology.

A quick recap of the tour is available here, with further learnings to be shared in industry channels, including in the upcoming January-March 2018 edition of The Vine.

Australian dried fruit communications program

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Dried Fruits Australia

What’s it all about? Established in 2016, this project continues to maintain and improve communication to Australian dried fruit growers and other industry stakeholders. By keeping the industry up-to-date on R&D, news, events and other critical information, its ultimate goal is to facilitate the uptake of R&D by the industry and support decision-making in dried fruit businesses.

This project is a multi-industry project. Carried out for the benefit of more than one levy industry, it has funding from a combination of industries along with Australian Government contributions.

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:


As well as accessing the resources above, if you’re a dried fruit producer and don’t currently receive the levy-funded e-newsletters, sign up by contacting the Dried Fruits Australia team at communications@driedfruitsaustralia.org.au.

Evaluation of dried and table grape varieties

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: CSIRO

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this multi-industry project will deliver new grape varieties for both the dried grape and table grape industries, with levies from both used to fund the work.

For dried grapes the project will deliver new, consistently high yielding, rain-tolerant varieties targeted to produce a premium light-coloured, globally differentiated product to enhance value.

What’s the latest update? At the time of last reporting, the project was continuing to evaluate seedless material established by CSIRO in previous projects; identify new selections for inclusion in multiplied plot trials; and establish new advanced selections for semi-commercial and regional testing.

For dried grapes, fruit from 94 promising seedlings and 51 multiplied selections had been dried at harvest in 2017 and evaluated against key criteria. The researchers were looking at productivity and quality traits including yield potential, time of maturity, dried berry colour and size uniformity and dried berry ‘soundness and plumpness’. They were also on the lookout for issues such as lignified seed traces, development of ‘off’ flavours, and splitting associated with rain damage (rain events in January provided a good opportunity to assess rain tolerance of early ripening selections).

Based on this evaluation, 50 seedlings and 39 multiplied selections were found to produce a good-quality dried fruit product, warranting ongoing evaluation. Meanwhile, four seedlings and one multiplied selection showed sufficient potential to warrant establishment in grafted multiplied blocks, with cutting material collected for this purpose. For this season’s evaluation, no new selections were identified for inclusion in replicated trials for Plant Breeders Rights. There were also a significant number of seedlings and multiplied selections identified for removal from the evaluation project.

Note: Since the last Hortlink, Hort Innovation has sought industry advice and endorsement on a variation to the dried grape component of this project. This will see six new varieties commercialised from the selection of 50, which are expected to be rolled out during 2019.

New rootstocks to improve production and water use efficiency, sustainability and reduce risks of dried grape production

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: CSIRO

What’s it all about? Rootstocks are an important tool to reduce production risks associated with climate variability, salinity and soil-borne pests. Running since 2013, this project aims to deliver new high-yielding, water-use-efficient and drought-tolerant rootstocks. It is also investigating integrated strategies involving high-density plantings and rootstock choice to optimise productivity and water-use efficiency in the dried grape industry.

What’s the latest update? With a project update due to Hort Innovation shortly, at the time of last reporting in Hortlink established field trials had been sampled and harvested over the 2017 season. These included…

  • New evaluation trials grafted with Carina, Sultana and Sunmuscat, managed with two different irrigation treatments (a standard control and a deficit treatment of 2.5 ML/ha). These trials involve 11 new rootstock genotypes and three standard rootstocks.
  • Ongoing high-density plantings grafted with Carina and Sunmuscat, which include three rootstocks previously released by CSIRO with Plant Breeders Rights (Merbein 5489, 5512 and 6362).
  • A long-term Sunmuscat trial grafted on 105 rootstock genotypes.

For each trial, the yield, berry weight, bunch weight, berries per bunch and total soluble sugars were measured.

The researchers reported that results of the new evaluation trials – if maintained over a number of seasons – indicate significant potential to identify new rootstocks that maintain high productivity under limited water supply. At the time of last reporting, four new rootstock selections with strong performance had been identified for potential release to industry.

Preliminary results from the high-density trials also indicated potential yield benefits from adopting high planting densities with the low-medium vigour CSIRO rootstocks, compared to low planting densities with standard rootstocks.

The project’s work continues.

Dried grape industry development project stage 2

Status: Near-completed project

Key research provider: Dried Fruits Australia

What’s it all about? Designed to build capacity and knowledge in the dried grape industry, this project has aimed to:

  • Facilitate the adoption of best-practice production systems and technologies in the industry, in turn supporting growers in lifting crop yields, lowering costs and improving fruit quality
  • Ensure the latest R&D results and other relevant management information is extended to growers and other stakeholders, to enhance the industry’s skills base
  • Support industry projects related to the evaluation and development of new dried grape varieties, to ultimately enable production of a high-value, differentiated product under a range of conditions.

What’s the latest update? With this iteration drawing to a close at the end of 2017, the project has evolved to support the role of Consultant Field Officer for the industry, Stuart Putland (introduced on p6 of the April-June edition of The Vine). Stuart has been responsible for:

  • Conducting field walks, grower forums, a seasonal review with growers, training workshops and the Dried Fruits Australia annual conference – providing face-to-face information and advice
  • Maintaining regular communication with growers and other industry stakeholders
  • Supplying industry information, alerts, R&D updates and the like through articles prepared for industry e-newsletters and The Vine magazine
  • Developing factsheets on relevant topics
  • Providing ongoing support for relevant on-farm trials, as well as assisting the work in project Evaluation of dried and table grapes varieties (MT15026).

Hort Innovation is currently progressing a new project in this space with the dried grape Strategic Investment Advisory Panel.


Missed a field day? Videos of recent and many future events are to be uploaded to the Dried Fruits Australia YouTube channel, so you don’t miss out on the action. Check out this video for the cordon bunch removal demonstration, which was held in October.

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 dried grape reports are made available for download here, in the resources section of Hort Innovation’s Dried Grape Fund page.



Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the dried grape marketing levy into a range of activities to grow awareness and consumption – with a particular focus on export markets –  under the Hort Innovation Dried Grape Fund.

Hort Innovation has been working closely with growers, Dried Fruits Australia and the processing companies to develop a multi-year strategic marketing plan. The planning process is well underway, with Hort Innovation recently presenting to the Dried Fruits Australia Growers Forum on October 3, 2017. Stay tuned for an update in future editions of Hortlink.

For any questions, contact the industry’s marketing manager at Hort Innovation, Dianne Phan, at dianne.phan@horticulture.com.au.

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