A new research and development program launched by Hort Innovation aims to arm growers in Australia with the tools they need to produce more fruit, including citrus, and nuts per hectare. Hort Innovation is a grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for the nation’s horticulture industry.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The 5-year $28 million National Tree Crop Intensification in Horticulture Program will develop the needed systems to increase the intensity of orchards while improving production, quality and profitability outcomes for growers. Initially, the program’s focus is on almonds, avocados, citrus, macadamias and mangoes.
Hort Innovation Research and Development Manager Adrian Hunt said, “The program will investigate scion rootstock combinations, orchard design, vigor and canopy management strategies for optimal light interception. Orchard automation is also a key industry goal, and the program will provide insights from a tree physiology perspective to facilitate this transformation.”
The program is being led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries and Plant and Food Research, in Australia and New Zealand. Collaborators include South Australian Research and Development Institute, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Food Innovation, and University of California Davis.
NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said citrus is one of most important horticultural industries in NSW, worth $242.6 million per year. “NSW produces around 250,000 tons of citrus annually, representing 40% of Australia’s production and 36% of citrus exports,” Marshall said.
NSW Department of Primary Industries Director of Horticulture Shane Hetherington said, “Our research program will address citrus tree canopies modified using dwarfing viroids, dwarfing rootstocks, planting densities, pruning and cultural practices, and plant growth regulators to understand their effect on the relationships between fruit density, canopy volume and saleable fruit. Our work will also include surveys of a wide range of citrus varieties in an attempt to better understand the physical traits that promote fruit density and, in turn, suitability to production intensification.”
Source: Hort Innovation
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