With ongoing R&D focussed on developing the industry and a smart, targeted marketing campaign that has maximised a small budget, the industry punches well above its weight. Read more in the R&D Snapshot below.
In the Marketing Snapshot, a short autumnal season, drives a targeted approach.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The inaugural Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) meeting was held on August 1, 2016, in Brisbane with key items on the agenda including prioritising concepts around the continuation of communication and extension with growers, continuing investment with minor use permits and data generation, and a review of the strategic investment plan via a workshop session. A marketing update on the season campaign and prioritisation for next year was also discussed with the group.

To find out more about the Persimmon program, take a look at the persimmon page on the Hort Innovation website or send the industry’s Relationship Manager at Hort Innovation, Astrid Hughes an email. For marketing please contact the persimmon Marketing Manager Monique Emmi on email.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

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

Clonal propagation of five rootstock selections was carried out by Yuruga Nursery in late 2015 prior to the liquidation of the business. A small number of clonally propagated rootstock plants have been supplied to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the rootstock mother plants remain at Yuruga Nursery to be available for further work refining the clonal propagation technique. The business re-opened in late March, and DAF remains in contact with the new owners and discussions are planned for when they have reviewed the business and set a direction for the future.

Visual inspections, sticky bands and pheromone traps were evaluated as methods for monitoring mealybug populations in orchards. While sticky bands have been unreliable due to a range of issues, the citrus mealybug pheromone traps have proven effective in predicting mealybug infestation levels at harvest. Chemical trials were conducted to evaluate different timing and application rates of clothianidin (Samurai®) on ‘Fuyu’ and ‘Jiro’.

Results indicate early application at the full permitted rate provides the best control of citrus and longtail mealybug. New varieties currently grown at Maroochy Research Facility have been evaluated for yield, growth habit, maturity dates and in some cases, response to astringency removal with CO2.


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Development of Yang Fang fruits in early February 2016 in Queensland


MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

With a short autumnal season, marketing activity was targeted in order to generate enough of a groundswell to create demand for persimmons.

In a strategic move away from the traditional outputs of publicity, sampling, social media and point of sale, the marketing program centred on two key audiences sectors being Foodie and Health, and focussed on engagement via one specific output: educational events with key influencers across these two areas. This was done in order to get more bang for a limited buck and use the influence and reach of food and health industry leaders to drive the persimmon message, create demand and deliver outstanding return on investment.


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In April and May, Persimmons Australia hosted a private dining experience and educational briefings.

The first event aimed to drive an online presence among leaders with influence in the foodie world with a combined social following of 75,685. Hosted by Brett Guthrey, President Persimmons Australia, and Monique Emmi, Marketing Manager Hort Innovation, the event provided insights into harvest and tips to educate on the best way to use persimmons.

Owners of The Stinking Bishop, where the event was held, were on hand to give advice on a range of premium cheeses that were specifically chosen to compliment the sweet taste of persimmons providing attendees with user-friendly, new options for serving persimmons.

The second event was targeted to Australia’s top nutrition writers and bloggers – key influencers who collectively have direct access to over 262,500 Australians and actively drive behavioural change in their audiences.

Lyndi Cohen, an accredited and well-respected nutritionist, researched and presented on the health benefits of adding persimmons to a diet. The event’s menu showcased the versatility of persimmons and their usability in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.

The event focussed on the notion of eating with the seasons and that seasonal fruits provide vitamins and minerals required for that season – with persimmons as the prime example, packed full of vitamin C to prepare for winter flu season.

To create a steady stream of posts, attendees were each sent a tray of persimmons so that they could get creative in the kitchen and blog about their creations.

With a target of 80 media hits, the campaign has generated 165 pieces of coverage across print, online and social media, effectively more than doubling the KPI. The reach was upwards of 10.7 million.

The Australian Persimmons Facebook page doubled in fans during the campaign to 13,334. The target of Facebook likes of 2000 for the campaign saw more than quadruple achieved at 8321. Instagram followers increased by close to double to 760, well surpassing the target of 500. The total social media reach of the campaign was over 1.8 million.

GROWER STORY

CHRIS STILLARD, BAROOGA, NSW

Chris Stillard’s family has been working the land for over a century – and with his keen interest in evolving land management techniques and knowledge, it’s a tradition he hopes will carry long into the future.

“The farm has been in the family since 1904, and I’m the fourth generation of the family to manage it. It’s seen so many changes in its lifetime and, with any luck, will continue to do so,” Chris said.

While Chris also grows 800 tons of hay, dabbles in small grains and finishes lambs and steers on the farm, called “ Marboc” (“That’s the name of the town across the river, Cobram, in reverse”), persimmons are his real passion. “I really enjoy the fruit industry. And even though persimmons can be a challenging crop, when you’re doing something you love, it’s not a grind,” he said.

“With persimmons currently it’s a flood and a drought situation,” said Chris. “As a bi-annual crop they’re heavy one year and light the next. We were hit by a bad frost about three years ago when we had about two-thirds of our 3000 trees giving a heavy crop and the rest giving a light crop, but now all the trees are reset. This means we had them all giving a light crop last year, so this year we’re expecting a heavy crop.

“There’s also not a lot known about the agronomy of persimmons like other fruits, because we’re such a small industry. This is another challenge,” Chris said. “It would be great to broaden our knowledge, not only through research and by looking at what’s happening overseas, but also by coming together and really talking to each other, grower to grower. The more growers talk, the more we can get a consistent product presented to the market, too.”

At Marboc, Chris said he’s keen to adopt new techniques and share what he’s learning. “I’ve been playing around with biological soil treatments like some other growers in the industry have. I’ve experimented a little bit with trace element sprays via the leaf, especially molybdenum. I’m getting a very good reaction from it. It’s really visually benefiting the trees.”

Chris said he’s also starting to play around with different trellis techniques for different varieties – but is still in the early stages with this – and has a few ideas for value-adding his secondary fruit.

Looking to the future, Chris sees one of the great opportunities for persimmons is that they aren’t really well known locally. “The market is still small in Australia, but people are slowly getting into persimmons and starting to ask more questions about them, so I think we have some good growth ahead of us,” he said. “And of course the golden egg is export. We’re an off-season fruit for China, so if we could tap into that market the potential would be huge.”

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