Current levy-funded work for the persimmon industry has a focus on industry development and strategic marketing to gain big results from a small budget. Read more in the R&D and marketing snapshots below.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The selection process for appointing an independent chair for the persimmon Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) has recently been completed. Information on the SIAP chair will be made available on Hort Innovation’s Hort Innovation’s Persimmon grower page shortly. The page will also continue to make available summaries from the SIAP’s meetings.

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 the Persimmon grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Astrid Hughes is always available to answer questions on the persimmon program. For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Monique Emmi.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Australian sweet persimmon industry development project – phase 4 (PR13007)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Established in 2014, this project is fourth in a line of projects with a focus on developing new technologies and management strategies for the industry. It has a major objective of investigating pre- and post-harvest management of mealybug and clearwing moth, clonal rootstock propagation, identifying lead and fruit diseases, and finalising post-harvest management protocols.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016). At the time of last reporting:

  • Clonal rootstock propagation trialling was underway, to establish if such propagation is feasible. The initial results suggested clonal propagation of persimmon is indeed possible, with further work begun to determine if propagation success rates increase with successive generations, if such success rates are commercially viable, and to look at the grafting success rate of clonally propagated persimmon rootstock plants.
  • Visual inspections, sticky bands and pheromone traps were evaluated as methods for monitoring mealybug populations in orchards. While sticky bands proved unreliable due to a range of issues, citrus mealybug pheromone traps were effective in predicting mealybug infestation levels at harvest.
  • Chemical control of mealybug was investigated in field trials evaluating different timing and application rates of clothianidin (Samurai®) on Fuyu and Jiro persimmons. Results indicated early application at the full permitted rate provides the best control of citrus and longtail mealybug.
  • The performance of new varieties continued to be investigated, with a small number of trees of several varieties planted in the persimmon orchard at Maroochy Research Facility. Some varieties were yet to produce fruit, others were performing well. The varieties were evaluated for yield, growth habit, maturity dates and in some cases, response to astringency removal with carbon dioxide.

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

The 2016 marketing activity for persimmons wrapped up back in June, at the end of the year’s season. The campaign was reported on in the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016), and included educational events targeting ‘foodie’ and ‘health’ influencers, who in turn disseminated the persimmon message through their print, online and social media channels – reaching a combined total of more than 10.7 million people.

Activity for the 2017 season is currently being planned, and is expected to have a focus on PR, taste sampling and social media, including the Persimmons Australia Facebook page (www.facebook.com/persimmonsaustralia) and Instagram account (@persimmonsaustralia), which will come back online in February.

GROWER PROFILE

ROD DALTON, GRANTHAM ORCHARDS, QLD

Having the opportunity to lease a block of persimmons in the early ’90s inspired Rod Dalton to plant the fruit on his own farm in Grantham, Queensland.

“I’d had some interest in persimmons, so that gave me the opportunity to learn a bit about them and see whether or not I wanted to grow them. I was looking for another crop to grow and in 1995 I planted my first block of persimmons.”

Rod said he particularly liked the export potential of the fruit. “There were plenty of opportunities, with it being relatively easy to export persimmons into a number of South-East Asian countries.”

Rod’s export program remains a great success. “My focus really does remain on export. I’m still sending 50 per cent of my production into the international market, with some long-term relationships that go back more than a couple of decades.”

Rod purchased his current farm in 1988. At the time it was a stone fruit, avocado and citrus orchard. These days, of the 20 hectare orchard, around a quarter is persimmons and the rest is early stone fruit and fresh figs.

“One of my philosophies is about always spreading my risks,” Rod said. “Growing persimmons spreads my workload and improves my cash flow, and means I can keep my permanent staff employed 12 months of the year.”

Rod said the industry has invested in increasing domestic consumption, and could now do with more new plantings. “This is a bit of a challenge overall but it’s also a positive because we, the early growers, can enjoy some reasonable returns as the supply is somewhat limited.”

He added that international demand for the persimmons means growers have options if the domestic market does experience high supply. “We can switch our focus to export and encourage the price to come up in the other market,” he said.

One thing Rod would like to see the industry is less reliance on seedling rootstocks. “Those rootstocks tend to give us a fair amount of variability in the orchard, so our productivity in many orchards isn’t as good as it could be. It would be a big job but if we could reduce the variability in our rootstocks, we have the capacity to get significantly better production and returns.”

Tackling pests is also high on his priority list. Road has completely enclosed his orchard in hail netting to keep the lorikeets out. “They’ve got a taste for the persimmons. It also reduces insect pressure, particularly from the Queensland fruit fly.”

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