Don’t forget to grab the Strawberry Fund Annual Report

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

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

  • Key documents including the Strawberry Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier in 2017, and the Strawberry Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the strawberry Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met on October 3, 2017 in Melbourne, and is due to meet again during March 2018.
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including operating statements and expenditure summaries for R&D projects
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.
Any questions?

Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Bradley Mills is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Strawberry Fund program. He can be reached on 0408 635 465 or at



Berry export strategy

Status: New project

Key research provider: Auspex Strategic Advisory

What’s it all about? Contracted by Hort Innovation in November, this short project is for and funded by both the strawberry and raspberry and blackberry industries. It will be responsible for identifying, sizing and addressing opportunities for the industries in international markets, through the development of an export strategy. Work in this space is intended to build or rebuild export capabilities, drive export growth, and position the industries to grow demand in export markets.

What’s the latest update? With work on the strategy now underway, look for an update early in 2018.

Improved management of charcoal rot of strawberry

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

What’s it all about? Beginning in mid-2017, this project will help tackle charcoal rot, reducing its occurrence and its related losses and costs for the Australian strawberry industry. It is responsible for investigating improved management approaches including chemical, biological and cultural options for the disease, which is caused by the fungus Macrophomina phaseolina and has symptoms including crown and root rot, plant wilting and yellowing of leaves (chlorosis).

What’s the latest update? In conducting a review of information from Australia and across the world, the project team has identified better ways of applying soil fumigants to improve operator safety and increase effectiveness against charcoal rot. One technique identified is the use of plastic films with greater impermeability, and hence the potential to retain the fumigant.

The researchers have also set up soil column experiments to screen new and existing fumigants against charcoal rot, either alone or as mixtures. These experiments will be used to prioritise the most effective fumigant treatments for testing in field trials, which at the time of writing were due to begin around December.

Meanwhile, a study of how long the Macrophomina fungus will survive in infected strawberry crowns has been initiated. Infected crowns and part crowns buried in the field will be retrieved at fortnightly intervals and assessed for the presence of viable Macrophomina over the course of the six-month study, with the first retrievals now completed.

National strawberry varietal improvement program

Status: Near-completed project

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

What’s it all about? To ensure the Australian strawberry industry has access to improved, locally-adapted varieties into the future, Hort Innovation has been continuing to support breeding for targeted environments through this national breeding project.

Established in 2012, this project has been:

  • Using quantitative genetics to develop new varieties with increased fruit size and early yield
  • Identifying and incorporating resistance to wilt diseases into new varieties
  • Looking at the economic significance of traits to ensure the most economically beneficial traits are the focus of varietal development
  • Developing varieties to boost consumer satisfaction.

This project has different ‘nodes’, representing different commercial production regions with their own varietal needs, which are predominantly climate-based.

What’s the latest update? Work has been continuing to lead towards the commercial availability of new varieties for Australia’s growing regions.

As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, varieties that have been released to industry so far include Red Rhapsody, Parisienne Kiss and Sundrench, with more to come.

With this iteration of the project due to wrap-up in early 2018, Hort Innovation is currently establishing a new investment to carry on the varietal improvement program. Look for a recap of the full BS12021 program, and updates on the new program, in future editions of Hortlink.


There’s plenty of information on the varietal improvement program in the industry’s Simply Red publication (produced as part of the industry development projects described below). These include…

For further information on the breeding work, you can reach BS120212 project leader Mark Herrington at or co-lead Jodi Neal at

Facilitating the development of the Australian strawberry industry – national oversight and communications
(BS15002) as well as Facilitating the development of the Australian strawberry industry – sub-tropical regional delivery (BS15003) and Facilitating the development of the Australian strawberry industry – temperate regional delivery (BS15004)

Status: Ongoing projects

Key research providers: RMCG (BS15002); Qld Strawberry Industry Promotions Council (BS15003); Victorian Strawberry Industry Development Committee (BS15004)

What are they all about? Together, these three projects form a development program geared towards improving Australian strawberry growers’ knowledge and skills, facilitating the adoption of innovation and R&D, and supporting practice change to ensure the profitability and sustainability of the industry.

What’s the latest update? National project BS15002 continues to produce and maintain key industry communication channels, including…

The regional projects each continue to feed into this national program and deliver additional activities such as workshops, grower groups, farm walks, field days, study tours, case studies and industry analysis.

Specifically, BS15003 and BS15004 are responsible for funding the positions of industry development officers (IDOs) to carry out these activities. Activities run by the IDOs are advertised in industry channels, including newsletters and the events section of the Strawberry Innovation website.

Together, the program components have been working towards updating a number of key industry information products, including a national best practice guidelines document, an integrated pest management guide, and a chemical guide.

At the time of writing, the first part of a new Strawberry Good Practice Guide and associated case studies were due for release. Look for these in industry channels, with the completed guide to ultimately be available from the Hort Innovation Strawberry Fund Page.

An integrated pest management (IPM) app, including pest and disease identification, is also being developed in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology. It is due for release during early 2018.

Other resources to look out for soon include posters on IPM and Queensland fruit fly, and the industry chemical guide.

The IDOs have also been working on collecting strawberry runner data, with updates and information to be provided to industry as available.


  • As well as accessing the above website and Simply Red resources, if you don’t already receive the monthly newsletter you can sign up by contacting RMCG at or on (03) 9882 2670; filling out the contact form here; or contacting your region’s IDO (details below)
Strawberry 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 strawberry 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.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • Enhanced National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT16005), which is delivering a nationally coordinated bee-pest surveillance program to help safeguard honey-bee and pollinator-dependent industries in Australia. It builds upon the previous National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT12011), and includes upgrading sentinel hive arrays, strengthening relationships with surveillance operators, the introduction of new elements such as Asian hornet screening and more. The surveillance is designed to enable the early detection of high-priority pest incursions that can impact on honey bees, providing the best opportunity for successful pest eradication. The strawberry industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.
  • 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 strawberry industry is one of several involved in the project.
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