See how the summerfruit 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 summerfruit 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 Summerfruit Fund Annual Report

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

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

  • Key documents including the Summerfruit Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier in 2017, and the Summerfruit Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the summerfruit Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most convened on November 23, 2017 via teleconference, and is due to meet again during June 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 Mark Spees is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Summerfruit Fund program. He can be reached on 0439 574 173 or at



Summerfruit export strategy

Status: New project

Key research provider: APCO Worldwide Advisory Services

What’s it all about? Contracted by Hort Innovation in late October, this short new project aims to build and extend the Australian summerfruit industry’s export success in suitable global markets. It will develop an export strategy detailing priority markets for summerfruit export and the route-to-market for each of these markets, to help deliver sustainable trade growth for the industry.

What’s the latest update? With work on the strategy now underway, look for an update early in 2018. When completed, information on how to access the final export strategy will be made available.

National biosecurity plan for the summerfruit industry

Status: New project

Key research provider: Plant Health Australia

What’s it all about? Contracted in October, this new, five-year project in the Summerfruit Fund will be responsible for reviewing and updating the industry’s biosecurity plan. The plan is a top-level document that identifies high-priority endemic and exotic pests, diseases and weeds, along with the risk mitigation activities required to reduce their biosecurity threat and surveillance and diagnostic activities. It provides a strategic framework for industry and government to work together to improve preparedness for and response to these potential threats.

Increased stone fruit profitability by consistently meeting market expectations

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

What was it all about? Established in 2012 and now concluded, this project was responsible for the establishment of the world-class Stonefruit Field Laboratory at DEDJTR-Tatura in Victoria, and through this the investigation of management practices to produce high-quality fruit and so increase grower productivity and profitability.

Investigations focused on the effect of orchard management practices involving crop load, irrigation, rootstocks and canopy architecture on improving consistency in fruit quality – including size, maturity and sweetness – for selected varieties of peach, nectarine, plum and apricot. To this end, the orchard involved a suite of field experiments, complemented with sensor technologies such as DA meters, plus a state-of-the-art post-harvest facility including a fruit grader equipped with near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) technology and optical sensors for rapid, non-destructive measurement of fruit quality, and cool rooms equipped with controlled atmosphere storage units.

Improvements in fruit size, maturity and sweetness were observed by manipulating fruiting levels by crop load management, applying strategic crop water stress through irrigation management, reducing tree vigour using dwarfing rootstocks and optimising fruit position in the tree by manipulating canopy architecture. Results suggest that careful manipulation of these agronomic practices in the correct combination has the potential to improve yield, pack-out and to reduce variability in fruit quality.

With the trees now at maturity/commercial production, there will need to be continued research to develop specific orchard management recommendations from the project’s many avenues of research. However, preliminary findings have suggested these approaches for growing consistent high-quality fruit:

  • For new plantings of modern high-density orchards, select rootstock/scion and trellis design for early bearing
  • Adjust crop load (fruiting level) to maximise fruit size and fruit sweetness to target market requirements…
    • For peach and nectarine, a target cropping level of one fruit per 12 to 15cm of fruiting lateral, and
    • Thin fruit (fruit <15mm diameter) early in the season to maximise cell number and final fruit size
  • In cases where tree canopies have poor light distribution in lower parts of the tree, maximise fruit number higher in the tree and reduce fruit number at the base to improve fruit size and quality uniformity
  • Apply regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) during stage two of fruit growth to maintain yield and fruit quality (the studies suggest, however, that deficit irrigation during stages one or three of growth reduce yield and fruit size)
  • Monitor fruit size (using digital calipers) and maturity development (using DA meter) in situ (‘on the tree’) starting four to six weeks prior to harvest to determine optimal harvest date/s
  • Regularly review orchard performance (e.g. irrigation, fertiliser strategies, IPM, yield, pack-out).

Throughout its course, the project has delivered information to industry including through regional roadshows, conference presentations and ever-popular orchard walks and tours through the on-site facilities to showcase and provide training around modern high-density orchard management, including tree training systems, pruning, blossom thinning, IPM, irrigation and fertigation management and post-harvest storage and handling systems.

Full details can be found in the project’s final report, which will soon be available to order through Hort Innovation’s final report order form. Final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies. Not registered with Hort Innovation? Become a member now.

To carry on this important work, Hort Innovation is currently looking at new work in this space with the summerfruit SIAP.


During its run, there were more than 30 YouTube videos produced around project activities and findings. Watch the most recent videos:

Other information, videos and resources can be found at

Rootstock and training system to optimise early stone fruit bearing and growth

Status: Ongoing project, linked to the now-completed Increased stone fruit profitability by consistently meeting market expectations (SF12003)

Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

What’s it all about? Using the Stonefruit Field Laboratory described in project SF12003 above, this project is addressing issues related to the very early years of tree establishment and development until full production. It is generating knowledge on how rootstocks, tree training systems and irrigation management affect stone fruit bearing and growth. Various cultivars of nectarine, peach, apricot and plum are being investigated.

What’s the latest update? The project’s work has been intertwined with that of SF12003, with the research team recently providing an update on the collection of data from the trial sites from summer-autumn of 2016-17, and this information feeding into the results reported in SF12003 as well. Much of this information is similar to that reported for the 2015-16 season.

  • Looking at training system and crop load treatment experiments, shoot and fruit growth were measured during the growing season, with the lowest growth corresponding to the highest number of fruit on the trees. A similar pattern of shoot and fruit growth was observed in the rootstock and crop load experiments, independent of rootstock vigour.
  • Fruit size and quality (sweetness and firmness) have also been looked at, as in SF12003. The researchers report that the effect of canopy position, from top to bottom, on these traits so far doesn’t seem to be affected by tree training system, whether vertical leader or Tatura trellis. However, heavily thinned trees have produced slightly larger fruits at the top while heavily cropped trees have produced slightly firmer fruit at the bottom of the canopies.No canopy variability in fruit size was noticed on the first fruiting season in the rootstock experiments on both nectarine (‘Rose Bright’) and peach (‘September Sun’) varieties being studied.
  • Fruit maturity was also monitored during the growing season with a DA meter. Fruit maturity was affected by crop load, with heavily cropped trees having the highest IAD (‘index of absorbance difference’, an index of ripening) and lightly cropped trees having the lowest independent of the training system for August Flame peach and Autumn Bright nectarine. Another finding was that the rootstock ‘Krymsk 86’ with heavy crop load delayed maturity up to three days.

Wood material from pruning continues to be sampled and dried, the ground and analysed, to look at starch concentrations between tree training systems as well as rootstocks. No differences have been found in starch concentration between training systems so far (with samples only analysed up to winter 2016 to date), while substantial differences have been found between rootstocks, with the more dwarfing ‘Krymsk1’ showing less starch concentration.


Videos and content relating to the project’s results are uploaded to the Horticulture Industry Network’s Stonefruit Field Laboratory site. Growers interested in learning more can also contact these members of the project team: Janine Jager at or Dario Stafanelli at

Selecting and releasing to industry high quality fresh and dried Australian apricots for export and domestic markets

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Dried Fruits Australia

What’s it all about? This project is responsible for developing new apricot varieties that are locally adapted, through a partnership with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) National Apricot Breeding Program. This is a multi-industry project that is funded by the dried tree fruit levy, co-contributions from other sources – including from within the summerfruit industry (Summerfruit SA) – and Australian Government support.

What’s the latest update? The project continues to select and evaluate the remaining seedlings from the National Apricot Breeding Program, working towards the commercialisation of the best lines.

For the fresh apricot industry, this means the delivery of varieties that can produce regular crops of robust fruit with a flavoursome eating experience for consumers.

As the project has progressed, the lines under commercial consideration have been whittled down, with 15 lines progressing into the 2017/18 season based on production advantages. There are a range of evaluations taking place through the project, including grower trials, agronomic quality evaluations, post-harvest handling and storage studies, consumer testing and more.

With harvest season now in swing, look for updates in future editions of Hortlink. To see what’s happening on the dried apricot side of things, head to the Dried Tree Fruit Fund Hortlink page.

Comparing stonefruit ripening, quality and volatile composition

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

What’s it all about? Beginning in late 2015, this project is developing tools and knowledge to assist producers in harvesting, storing and ripening fruit for optimum firmness, sweetness and aroma. There is a particular emphasis on fruit for export.

What’s the latest update? There are two core components of this project…

  • Identifying and quantifying fruit aroma volatile profiles; and
  • Monitoring the response of summerfruit cultivars to storage when fruit is harvested at various maturities, then determining subsequent ripening behaviour.

While no official project was due to Hort Innovation since the last Horltink, at the time of last reporting the research team was continuing to analyse data collected during the 2016/17 season. Some preliminary findings included that…

  • Looking at Rose Bright nectarines, aroma volatiles changed very little during storage with the exception of volatile ‘γ-hexalactone’, which was directly correlated with fruit maturity changes post-storage
  • The ethylene production rate of individual fruit was a good indicator of fruit behaviour during storage (correlating with the development of softness and shrivel), though it did not always appear to impact on the production of volatiles.

As per the last edition of Hortlink, the project has also progressed DA-meter maturity classes for a range of peaches and nectarines. DA meters can be used to establish optimal harvest time by taking non-destructive measurements in the field, and they can be used to establish maturity changes during storage. You can learn more about DA meters, as well as ethylene sampling, here.


Growers interested in learning more – including those interested in identifying maturity classes and ethylene measurements – can contact project leader Dario Stefanelli at

China market readiness and entry

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: Summerfruit Australia Limited

What was it all about? This project began in 2016, after the signing of the protocol to export Australian nectarines to China. Its aims included…

  • Ensuring the export readiness of the Australian summerfruit industry through the training of growers, packers and exporters and facilitating the registration and audit of export treatment facilities, orchards and packhouses; and
  • Developing and implementing a monitoring and management program for a range of pests and diseases of quarantine concern to China.

The project also facilitated industry engagement to finalise market access to China for peaches, apricots and plums, and delivered the market-entry strategy for nectarines into China.

Full details will be available in the project’s final report, which will ultimately 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.

With this investment now concluded, Hort Innovation is working to contract new work in the export space to continue to drive growth and opportunities for Australian summerfruit. It is expected there will be a dedicated investment for China-focused market development programs and export facilitation, and a separate investment focused on all other export markets for Australian summerfruit. The latter will involve input into maintaining the industry export strategy developed under SF17001 described above, and the development of export quality standards; input into market development programs; delivery of export-related training activities and resources; implementation of an online export registration system; logistical support and more. Look for updates in future editions of Hortlink.

Summerfruit 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 summerfruit industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The minor use program has also been supported by the project Generation of residue data for pesticide minor use permit applications in horticulture crops 2015/16 – Eurofins (ST15027) which has been responsible for generating data to support a range of permit applications for a range of industries. Project ST15027 has used 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.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • Summerfruit communications strategy development (SF17003), a short, new project that has been responsible for developing a new communications strategy for the industry, which will be used to direct a reinvigorated communications program that will best serve the needs of Australia’s summerfruit growers. Look for updates on new communication activities in future editions of Hortlink.
  • 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 summerfruit reports are made available for download here, in the resources section of Hort Innovation’s Summerfruit Fund page.
  • 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 summerfruit industry is one of several involved in the project.
Summerfruit levy investment in Hort Frontiers projects… 

What is Hort Frontiers?

Hort Frontiers is Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, formerly known as ‘Pool 2’. It is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects that endeavour to solve major and often complex challenges crucial to securing the future of Australian horticulture. Hort Frontiers projects are funded via a combination of Australian Government funding and co-investments brokered and managed by Hort Innovation. Co-investors range from research institutes to commercial partners, and can also include individual levy industries.

How is the summerfruit industry involved?

Summerfruit levy has been co-invested in the Hort Frontiers project Global Masterclass in Horticultural Business (LP15001). This project is part of the Hort Frontiers Leadership Fund, with the summerfruit levy supporting a scholarship for an industry levy-payer to take part in the 2018 Masterclass in Horticultural Business course. The Masterclass is a unique offering designed to grow participants’ business and leadership skills – you can watch a short video on it and learn more here.

Applications for the 2018 scholarship were advertised in industry channels and closed in November.



Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the Summerfruit marketing levy into a range of activities to grow awareness and consumption, under the Hort Innovation Summerfruit Fund. Here’s a look at some of the most recent activity…

For local consumers, the marketing levy has approached this season using a mix of social and traditional media to drive purchase and consumption of summerfruit. The key messages for the campaign focus on snacking and seasonality for a quality eating experience. The ‘#mysummersnack’ hashtag is being used to reinforce these messages and allows consumers to share their eating experience with others on social media. To help get these messages in the hands of the right influencers, media kits with a summerfruit hamper have been sent to key media outlets and social media influencers to spread the word.

Next up, the marketing levy will be invested in consumer research to gain insight into the attitudes and purchasing behaviour of main Australian grocery buyers towards summerfruit, which will support future marketing strategies. Look out for updates on this research a future edition of Hortlink.

Moving further afield, all export markets now have access to re-invigorated ‘Taste Australia’ point of sale material, to help activate and raise the profile of Australian Summerfruit in-store – encouraging international consumers to enjoy the fruits.

For the key focus market of China, a new video featuring nectarines has recently been developed and translated in Mandarin for use in retail, online and media.

For any questions relating to Summerfruit Fund marketing activities, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Dianne Phan at

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