R&D Wrap-up A diverse range of activities are currently being undertaken as part of the Australian Almond Industry’s R&D Program: Irrigation and Nutrition Management Trial This trial, based at CT Farms in the Riverland of SA, has been studying key management components of irrigation, nutrition, canopy management and their interaction, optimisation and efficiencies. The trial has improved current understanding of efficient means of water and nutrition application techniques. Information gained from this trial forms the basis of the upcoming Almond Management Courses, scheduled for commencement in May 2006 (see page 2 for further information). Propagation and Evaluation of New Varieties Ten new varieties that have been planted on commercial orchards sites undergo continual evaluation. Delegates at the 2005 Annual Almond Conference viewed some of these new varieties and learnt about their specific characteristics, during a field visit to Amaroo Orchards. Angle Vale Demonstration Trial This demonstration plot is proving to be a very important resource to demonstrate improved irrigation and nutrition management. Growth of trees has progressed well, although overall outcomes have been severely limited by the ongoing “leaf tatter” problem (see below). A key outcome from this trial been demonstration of the relative abilities and susceptibilities of three sprinkler systems as compared with drip system, to manage build-up of soil salinity. The drip system has proven significantly better, reducing the salinity from commercially limiting levels to below the economic threshold of 1.5 ECe. Chemical Registration & Consultancy Kevin Bodnaruk (AgriSearch) provides professional assistance on a number of chemical related issues, including more recent activities: • Chemical residue trials for a number of new chemicals, leading to future applications for registration; • Submission to the Japanese Government regarding issues surrounding almonds on their “Positive List”; and reviewing and providing advice on the provisional Japanese MRL’s; • Gap analysis and recommendations on the almond industry’s MRL compliance on the export market. Food Safety Protocols These protocols have been successfully developed by Dr Elizabeth Frankish of Microserve Laboratories in Perth, together with industry consultation in the form of a Protocols Committee. These protocols will form the basis of the industry’s guidelines for food safety and they will be continually developed as new issues arise.
Spray Program An almond spray program is currently being written by Dr Prue McMichael of Scholefield Robinson. Prue has extensive experience with almond pests and diseases, having undertaken a number of pathological projects within the industry (including the “leaf tatter” project below). The spray program will incorporate guidelines for the use of newly permitted and regitered chemicals, as well as the older materials. Spray guidelines will be distributed to growers ready for use at the start of next season and will include sections on disease identification and almond flowering times. Leaf Tatter Project This project is also headed by Dr Prue McMichael (Scholefield Robinson). While there are lots of theories, it is clear that we do not yet know the cause, or even whether it is a disease or not. However, Prue and her team have made significant progress in the last season, with things becoming a little clearer. One treatment applied appears to have potential for control. However, this is not a currently registered chemical for use on almonds. It must be remembered that before any chemical can be registered there are a number of strict requirements that need to be met to convince the APVMA to issue a permit. This includes proving efficacy (“it works”), identifying the problem (“what is it”) and having it available in Australia. At this stage none of these basic requirements can be met. Prue has developed a preliminary program for work next season, with particular emphasis on the areas currently identified as the most important and promising. Australian Almond Breeding Program This program is being undertaken at the University of Adelaide, under the guidance of Professor Margaret Sedgley. Supported by molecular biology activities undertaken in an aligned ARC project, this program has produced over 18,000 seedlings and more than 250 crosses. Monash Evaluation Trial 3,628 seedlings eventuating from the Australian Almond Breeding Program (above) have been planted into the primary evaluation site at Monash. Continual evaluation of these plantings is now being undertaken.
New projects under consideration for 2006/07: • Rust Predictive Model • International Study Tour
• Update of the Financial Analysis • Pollination Improvement Tool For further information regarding any of these activities, please contact Chris Bennett ph: (08) 8582 2055
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Special thanks to Jubilee Almonds for use of their pick-up machine!