Despite the lower than estimated 2012 harvest, it was the largest the Australian almond industry had experienced. The 2012 harvest is estimated to achieve approximately 50,000 tonnes, an increase of 33% from 2011. The increased harvest enabled new investment to occur and as we finish the 2011/12 season and begin another it is an opportune time to summarise the key R&D projects with respect to the industry’s R&D objectives and strategies (Table 1), that have either been endorsed or are undergoing contracting for the 2012/13 investment year. The projects are funded by Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) using the almond industry levy, voluntary contributions from industry and matched funds from the Australian Government. A summary of three selected R&D projects is provided below. R&D Roundup Ben Brown - Industry Liaison Manager
Advanced processing of almonds AL12003
2. Effective aeration and dehydration of bulk almonds in silos/bunkers/sheds. This work aims to provide models of air flow and hence moisture movements through stockpiled almonds that may be in-hull, in-shell or kernels. Using airflow to effectively aerate the almonds, the storage conditions will be improved and thus will permit the earlier storage of almonds with higher moisture content and potentially avoiding destructive rains during the harvest period. 3. Improved cracking of almonds. This work aims to provide new processes that will reduce the damage done to kernels and hence increase recovery of undamaged kernels, thus reducing losses, improving the appearance of shelled almonds and permitting better machine vision sorting of defects such as insect and pest damage. Impact of strategic deficit irrigation for almonds on tree phenology, bloom, nut set and hull rot AL12010 This project will consolidate and expand on the previous project investigating the impact of strategic deficit irrigation and its effect on yield. In the project will investigate the timing and duration of key phenological events, the quantity of bloom and fruit set and the impact of strategic irrigation management on the potential for hull rot.
This project addresses several priorities relating to the post harvest sector of the supply chain. This project proposes to support investigations by three PhD students at the University of South Australia (under the supervision of Associate Professor John Fielke and Dr Chris Saunders) on the following topics: 1. Effective hulling of almonds – infield and during processing. This work aims to provide designs and operating parameters for equipment to be used both on-farm and in factory to condition and remove hulls from almonds. As hulls make up 50% of the almond mass and contain many nutrients, hulling at the farm prior to stockpiling will reduce nutrient costs if they are returned to the orchard, reduce storage costs as only half of the mass of product needs to be stockpiled and likewise reduce transport costs. Managing carob moth in almonds AL12004 In recent years, the Australian almond industry has experienced growing concern regarding the level of kernel damage attributed to Carob moth (Ectomyelois ceratoniae). Its larvae feed on almond hulls and kernels, reducing the kernel value to processing only or rendering the kernels unfit for human consumption. Carob moth threatens to reduce almond profitability through increased supply chain costs and reduced product quality. This project aims to begin developing an effective management program for carob moth in almonds following investigations in: the seasonal phenology of carob moth; evaluation of mating disruption; impact of mummy nut removal; and optimum timing of ovicide/larvicide applications.
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