As the Australian almond industry continues to expand it presents immense opportunities, but conversely some significant challenges. Brett Rosenzweig and I are predominantly responsible for industry development across the ‘Pre-Farm’, ‘On-Farm’ and ‘Post Harvest’ parts of the value chain (Figure 1) . One may ask, what is industry development? Well HAL defines it as “the process of informing and empowering those in horticulture to make better business decisions” , so as another year goes flying by it is a good time to summarise the key activities that have occurred during the last 12 months.
Pre-Farm The Almond Board of Australia (ABA) was successful in applying for Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) of three European rootstocks . The ABA has a good relationship with many of the European prunus breeders and institutions and as a result imported these rootstocks which are peach x almond hybrids and are reported to comprise all the advantages of GF677, plus the additional benefits of easier nursery propagation and root knot nematode tolerance. These rootstocks have been released from Australian quarantine and will be included in a rootstock trial to be planted in winter 2013 and encompass 17 rootstocks. The ABA also has access to several varieties through its European and Californian relationships. Many of the recently released varieties from Spain are in the process of, or have already been imported. Those already imported have been planted in a trial for commercial evaluation and are now in their 3 rd leaf and will produce their first crop in 2012. Californian varieties have also been planted and have now reached maturity and undergoing more detailed
The industry’s regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) trial with DPI Victoria is in its 3 rd season and as a result the experimental treatments are becoming more noticeable. A field day is being planned for early 2012. To continue investigating optimum nutritional requirements of almonds, several activities have been undertaken. A survey of leaf tissue analysis was conducted with the results summarised in a recently released Fact Sheet. The Fact Sheet proposes the utilisation of critical values for October, November and December sampling, and a new set of critical values for January. Brett Rosenzweig has also undertaken a survey of fruit nutrient analysis over the last two seasons and will be producing a Fact Sheet on fruit nutrient composition (i.e. uptake) and crop nutrient removals. This Fact Sheet will be published following the 2012 harvest. The CT Trial has been finalised with the final report and excel management spreadsheet published. As a supplement to the CT Trial, two Fact Sheets have also been published, summarising the findings of soil solution nutrient c omposition trial conducted by SARDI.
evaluation. Field days and fact sheets on these evaluations will be made available as more information comes to hand. As well as evaluating overseas rootstocks and varieties, the almond industry has its own varietal breeding program conducted by Dr Michelle Wirthensohn. After many years of primary crosses between suitable parents, the project is approaching an exciting period of secondary evaluation. The first trees selected for secondary evaluation will be coming into their 3 rd harvest in 2012, with another group of trees currently in their 2 nd leaf and more trees for planting in winter 2012. On-Farm There have been several advances in the on-farm activities. Some of the key activities include the commencement of a pollination efficiency R&D project with CSIRO which aims to answer the age old question, how many bees do we need? Once this is known more accurately, the project will begin investigating the best practices and methods to attain the best bee activity in our orchards, for example beehive placement and manipulation.
Branding Domestic Market Export Markets Consumer
Biosecurity Breeding & Evaluation Tree Production
Primary Processing Secondary Processing
Pre-Plant Agronomy Harvest
Figure 1 - Almond Industry Value Chain
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