The first two projects for the Pistachio Fund are now getting underway. While these inaugural projects were contracted in the current 2017/18 period, industry consultation around them – via the pistachio Strategic Investment Advisory Panel – took place during the 2016/17 financial year, and hence the industry’s financial reporting for 2016/17 (including in Hort Innovation’s corporate annual report) reflects related expenditure.
Understanding and managing insects on pistachio orchards (PS16000)
Status: New project
Key research provider: Ag Dynamics
What’s it all about? Contracted in September 2017, this two-year project will be responsible for increasing knowledge about pest and beneficial species of insects and mites in Australian pistachio orchards. In its course, it will help the industry better understand the pests that currently pose a risk to pistachio production, or that have the potential to move into orchards. It is expected this work will help the industry prioritise future research in pest management.
What’s the latest update? The project will involve monitoring of pistachio orchards over the 2017/18 season, including one orchard in the Riverina area of New South Wales and two in South Australia. The researchers will also be assessing field monitoring data from earlier orchard surveys conducted in 2015/16 and 2016/17, plus there’ll be desktop research into existing information on pests and beneficials, and reporting back to growers.
The researchers note that the project’s new monitoring is set to cast a wide net to help understand the range of insects and mites likely to impact on Australian pistachio orchards – as opposed to taking a scouting-program approach, where the focus is on mostly known pests.
With the project only just beginning, look for updates in future editions of Hortlink.
Pathogens and other factors contributing to dark staining on pistachio shells (PS16002)
Status: New project
Key research provider: Ag Etc
What’s it all about? Established in September 2017, this project will delve into dark staining of pistachio shells and nuts – an issue that leaves produce unmarketable and that has been tentatively linked to fungal pathogens Fusarium and Alternaria in preliminary studies.
What’s the latest update? Conducted over two years, the research will involve field and laboratory studies to evaluate the occurrence of dark staining, and to provide information on causal agents associated with the problem. It will also look at factors that could influence fungal infection, such as insect damage or environmental conditions.
The project will ultimately develop a monitoring tool for growers, to use in evaluating the risk of fungal disease, and assist in the future development of management strategies.
As with project PS16000, as this investment is only just beginning, look for updates in future editions of Hortlink.