Almond Breeding & Evaluation New Partnership Established By Ben Brown - Industry Liaison Manager
Since 1997, the Almond Board of Australia (ABA) in partnership with the University of Adelaide (UA) and Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) have undertaken an almond breeding program. The aim of the program is to produce new and improved cultivars (most particularly pollinator varieties) with characteristics such as increased production, self fertility and the following kernel characteristics: large size, oval shape, golden colour and good flavour. To produce such a cultivar is a long- term and resource intensive process, involving two levels of evaluation: prior to any commercial release. To date, project leader Dr Michelle Wirthensohn, has concentrated the majority of her efforts on the primary evaluation. To date, 82 parent cultivars and 303 different crosses have produced over 31,000 progeny in eleven years since commencement of the Australian almond breeding program. The main objective of the primary evaluation is to rapidly screen the crosses and progeny to produce a dataset of results which are statistically primary evaluation and 1. secondary evaluation, 2.
analysed for superior selections and priority parent cultivars for future crossing. Whilst all efforts are made to minimise planted hectares and capital investment, 31,000 progeny do require a lot of room. Consequently, over the last eleven years primary evaluation has occurred over two properties, Andrew Lacey’s Lindsay Point property and more recently at the Riverland Vine Improvement Committee’s property (RVIC) in Monash, South Australia. Both of these relationships have been pivotal in the success of the project to date, and the effort, time and expense incurred by those people involved are greatly appreciated. However, land restrictions have meant that since the last evaluation planting in 2007 at RVIC Monash, it has become necessary to find another property to undertake the future plantings. This brought about a long term lease and formal relationship with the Victorian and Murray Valley Vine Improvement Association (VAMVVIA) and the New South Wales State Government (NSW DPI). Land, infrastructure and labour has been accessed through this relationship to support a further five hectares of primary evaluation plantings.
Planting of an initial three hectares, encompassing 6,000 progeny took place in November 2008, a great success! Due to the increase in land availability, tree densities have decreased and will ultimately allow for improved management and enhanced, more accurate assessment of the progeny. The continuing relationship with Andrew Lacey and the new relationship with VAMVIA and NSW DPI will be critical to the future success of this project in undertaking future evaluations of both primary and secondary evaluation of new varieties
One of the new progeny planted at the new site - increased land availability has lead to decreased tree density.
The new almond breeding and evaluation site at Dareton in NSW planted in November 2008 with approximately 6,000 progeny over 3 hectares.