Australian Stonefruit Grower Magazine 2016 (SF15003)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project is responsible for the production of Australian Stonefruit Grower magazine. Available quarterly, the magazine communicates the latest updates on R&D levy investments and other industry news to Australian growers.
What’s the latest update? The project began earlier in 2016, taking over from the industry’s previous communications project. So far two new-look digital issues of Australian Stonefruit Grower have been produced (May and August editions), available for download here.
The latest edition of Australian Stonefruit Grower magazine
Increased stone fruit profitability by consistently meeting market expectations (SF12003)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Established in 2012, this project has been responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a world-class summerfruit field research facility: the Stonefruit Field Laboratory at DEDJTR-Tatura in Victoria.
The field laboratory has the broad objective to evaluate how orchard management (crop load, radiation interception, rootstock and irrigation) affects fruit quality and its variability (including sweetness, firmness and maturity) in selected varieties of peach, nectarine, plum and apricot.
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 the fourth season of the project had been completed, with work continuing. A virtual tour of the Stonefruit Field Laboratory was among the recently-produced resources of the project, with videos available to watch here.
Work in progress at the Stonefruit Field Laboratory
Rootstock and training system to optimise early stone fruit bearing and growth (SF13001)
Status: Ongoing project, linked to Increased stone fruit profitability by consistently meeting market expectations (SF12003)
What’s it all about? Using the Stonefruit Field Laboratory, this project aims to address issues related to the very early years of tree establishment and development until full production. It seeks to generate knowledge on how rootstocks, tree training systems and their interaction with crop load affect the physiology of tree and fruit development, especially fruit size, composition and performance.
What’s the latest update? Data from the 2015/16 summer-autumn season has been collected and analysed. In regards to the project’s experiments looking at the effect of crop load and canopy management on yield and fruit quality…
- Canopy light interception was analysed and shoot and fruit growth were found to be responding to crop load treatments, with the lowest growth corresponding to the highest number of fruit on the trees
- Canopy variability (from top to bottom) for traits of fruit size and quality (sweetness and firmness) did not seem affected by tree training system, with vertical leader versus Tatura trellis systems being used
- Heavily thinned trees produced slightly larger fruit at the top, while heavily cropped trees produced slightly firmer fruit at the bottom of the canopies.
Fruit maturity was also monitored during the season using a DA meter and found to be affected by crop load. Regardless of training system used, heavily cropped trees were found to have the highest IAD (‘index of absorbance difference’, an index of ripening) and lightly cropped trees had the lowest.
The project has worked with Summerfruit Australia to introduce the DA meter for assessing fruit maturity in Australia (learn more about how the meters work here), enabling adoption of the innovative technology by growers. Several growers in different fruit-growing districts across the country are already using the DA meter.
The project has also been sampling wood material to analyse carbohydrate content at various levels of crop load (to ultimately gather information on tree efficiency under different rootstock and training systems).
Results of the project’s past season were also communicated to growers via a series of regional tours and orchard visits.
Comparing stonefruit ripening, quality and volatile composition (SF15001)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Beginning at the end of 2015, this project aims to develop tools and knowledge to assist producers in harvesting, storing and ripening fruit for optimum firmness, sweetness and aroma, with a particular emphasis on fruit for export.
What’s the latest update? Key activities of the project include identifying and quantifying fruit aroma volatile profiles, and monitoring the response of selected cultivars to storage when fruit is harvested at various maturities, then determining subsequent ripening behaviour.
Recent work has resulted in:
- Maturity classes for three peach cultivars and one nectarine cultivar being established using a DA meter. The researchers report that precise physiological maturity of fruit can now be measured rapidly and non‐destructively at any point in the production chain from orchard to consumer to enable the supply of consistent, high-quality fruit at all times.
- A basic volatile profile for the August Flame peach being established, with the identification of the major compounds that contribute to flavour and aroma at harvest and during ripening. The researchers report that flavour and aroma volatiles changed substantially in the fruit during storage, with a substantial reduction in major flavour and aroma volatiles. As key quality parameters, further research will investigate strategies to minimise these losses.
- The development and validation of a protocol to sample and measure ethylene directly in the field, using evacuated vials. This new methodology makes data collection more accurate and affordable for both growers and researchers. It is explained in text and video here.
China market readiness and entry (SF16000)
Status: New project
What’s it all about? With the signing of a protocol to export Australian nectarines to China in May 2016, this project began in July with the aims of:
- 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
- Delivering a market-entry strategy for nectarines into China
- Developing and implementing a monitoring and management program for a range of pests and diseases of quarantine concern to China
- Facilitating industry engagement to finalise market access to China for peaches, apricots and plums.
What’s the latest update? With a workplan devised in preparation for entry activation, in September a launch event for the new season of nectarines was held in Shanghai, China. The event brought together importers and retailers, and showcased the beauty and benefits of Australian nectarines ahead of the season getting into full swing. The launch received media coverage, with Hort Innovation’s media release available here.
This event followed close on the heels of the Asia Fruit Logistica trade show in Hong Kong, where Australian nectarines were among the fresh, healthy and safe Australian produce showcased. This and other trade show activity is facilitated by the cherry industry’s involvement in Australia Fresh – the multi-industry export-market-development program for fruits, nuts and vegetables. As well as Asia Fruit Logistica, Australian summerfruit has also been represented via Australia Fresh at the China World Fruit & Vegetable Trade Fair in Beijing at the end of October. In November, Australia Fresh will also have a presence for the first time at the Middle East’s largest fresh produce expo, World of Perishables, in Dubai. Early in 2017 it will also have a pavilion at the Gulfood expo in Dubai – the largest food expo in the world.