Recent levy-funded work for the custard apple industry has focused on improvements to the Custard Apple Dispatch System (CADS) and supporting the growth of industry knowledge and skills. Read more in the R&D snapshot below. Marketing activity for the upcoming season is also being planned, with more information in the marketing snapshot.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The Strategic Investment Plan

A Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) is the roadmap that helps ensure levy investment decisions align with individual industry priorities. It is used to guide decision-making in levy spending, and represents a balanced view of stakeholders in the industry.

Hort Innovation is currently consulting with growers and other industry stakeholders to finalise new SIPs for each industry by the end of the calendar year.

To learn more about the SIP process, visit Hort Innovation’s SIP Portal.

Any questions?

As well as Hort Innovation’s Custard Apple grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Astrid Hughes is always available to answer questions on the custard apple program. For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Lead Graeme Yardy.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Custard Apple Roadshow 2016 (CU15700)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project is responsible for the industry’s roadshow events in 2016 – vital communication channels that bring R&D outputs, updates and other information to growers. The ultimate goal is to facilitate industry awareness and uptake of new techniques and technologies.

What’s the latest update? At the time of the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016), three Custard Apple Roadshows had been held in North Queensland, Bundaberg and South East Queensland, with attendance representing about 50 per cent of custard apple growers and about 70 per cent of production of custard apples in Queensland.

Since this update, a fourth event was held in Northern New South Wales on two farms on the outskirts of Alstonville, with 40 growers in attendance. Presentations by experts were on:

  • Fruitspotting bug and integrated pest management
  • Nutrition in custard apples
  • The Custard Apple Dispatch System (CADS)
  • The custard apple breeding program
  • Recognising fruit maturity in custard apples.

Articles based on these presentations have and will continue to appear in the custard apple newsletter over the coming months.

Fruit market wholesalers were also invited to present at the roadshow, giving growers a good opportunity to discuss marketing and forge new relationships.


custard-apple-roadshow

Growers at the Northern New South Wales Custard Apple Roadshow


 

Custard Apple Dispatch System 2 – CADS 2 (CU15000)

Status: Ongoing project

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, beginning earlier in 2016, is upgrading the system and will continue its administration.

What’s the latest update? Key tasks during the 2016 that were set and achieved for this project included:

  • Redeveloping the system’s dispatch and payback forms, which are now able to operate with any browser on both desktop computers and tablets
  • Updating system navigation for a smoother user experience
  • Providing an easier mechanism for consignees to display the payback form and enter payback prices
  • Developing an aggregated reporting function for dispatch quantities and payback prices.

The updated system was presented and demonstrated to growers at industry roadshow events at the beginning of the season, and the project team members report that there was continued strong use of CADS in South Queensland and New South Wales. During November, efforts will be made to remind growers, particularly those in North Queensland of the system and its benefits ahead of the 2017 season.

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

The marketing campaign for custard apples in 2017 will continue with its long-term approach to securing interest in and awareness of the fruit, generating strong results.

Involvement in events will form a part of the activity, with the Sydney Royal Easter Show identified as a great opportunity showcase the fruit and industry. This approach will be leveraged through a partnership with similar tropical fruits, with the persimmon industry already agreeing to such a partnership.

The marketing strategy will also maintain the current Facebook community management approach, with a focus on educating consumers and tackling barriers to purchase.

A more detailed proposal for the upcoming season will be presented to industry in the first quarter of the new year.

GROWER PROFILE

GARY PIKE, G.O PIKE AND SONS, QLD

Growing custard apples has been a “later life challenge” for Gary Pike who, since leaving school in the early ’60s, has considered pineapples his bread and butter.

While pineapples remain the predominant crop at G.O Pike and Sons, Gary is optimistic about the opportunities for custard apples and is increasingly turning his attention towards them.

This shift in focus happened almost by accident, when Gary’s sister and brother-in-law left the family business. “They were growing custard apples and tropical stone fruit and when they left they were going to bulldoze them out, but we said we’d retain them and give growing them a go.”

Some of the custard apple trees on Gary’s Glasshouse Mountains property have been standing for more than 30 years. “They’re old trees, but we’ve significantly upgraded them. We’ve removed blocks of the Hillary Whites and upgraded them with a newer variety called KJs.”

Gary said Hillary Whites require hand pollinating, which is an expensive undertaking. “In the afternoon you go and get the flowers and extract the pollen from them, and the next morning you go down with the pollen and a little brush and, if the flowers are open and receptive, you pollinate them. For two months, six men were doing that five days a week and my wife and I were doing it seven days a week.”

Of the 2000 custard apple trees at G.O Pike and Sons, 1500 are now the new KJ Pink variety. “These are different because they self-pollinate,” Gary said. “You have to thin them, prune them a bit more, and the fruit size is smaller, but they’re definitely less work.”

Gary said he found working in the orchard and growing custard apples rewarding, although this year he had more competition selling to the Melbourne market because the Interstate Certification Assurance (ICA) fruit fly protocol had been lifted.

“Until last year you couldn’t send them down there unless you had done extensive spraying, dipping and record keeping. There were only three of us from the Glasshouse Mountains sending fruit to Melbourne, but now it is less viable.”

G.O Pike and Sons completes chemical trials every year in the hope of identifying less expensive and more natural options, Gary said.

“We’ve been conducting chemical trials with organic compounds, but it’s very hard to get accurate weight measures because of the nature of the fruit. It’s susceptible to splitting and fruit loss after a spell of cold weather or a bit of rain.”

Gary is also involved with a grower group that is working hard to market custard apples to wider markets through avenues such as social media. He is looking to export the fruit this year and is hopeful this move will improve the average price return.

“You put the fruit into the market then the buyer takes it and doubles the price. It makes the fruit that expensive that people are shying off buying it. Most growers hate this. We accept it because we’re between a rock and a hard place, but my message would be, support the growers and buy the fruit.”

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