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Trials shows growth from certification

Research & Extension

Written by Tom Frankcomb, APFIP

Growers at last week’s Goulburn Valley evaluation site field day were able to see for themselves the advantages of certification, with growth from virus-free trees under trial visibly outstripping that of their virus-infected counterparts.

The certification trial at Agriculture Victoria, Tatura, in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley was one of three trials viewed across two sites last Thursday, 6 February, at the event, jointly hosted by APFIP and Fruit Growers Victoria (FGV).

Around 25 growers took time out from the busy Gala/Williams harvest to view evaluation and test sites in the region forming part of APFIP’s work aimed at improving growers knowledge and informing decisions about new plantings.

The group visited both Agriculture Victoria, Tatura and the Jeftomson’s North Shepparton orchard, ending the day with a BBQ.

Agriculture Victoria Research Leader Crop Physiology Dr Ian Goodwin and APFIP’s Tom Frankcomb outlined the two new APFIP and Hort Innovation demonstration plantings at Tatura:

  • a pear certification demonstration planted in 2019 under the current levy funded APFIP project, and
  • a variety demonstration of 18 apple and pear varieties.

Pear certification

The pear certification trial is a replicated trial of 250 trees each of virus-free and virus-infected Corella Pear trees on Quince A with Beurre Hardy interstock, grown as twin leaders on single trellis.

Although only a year into the trial, there is already a visible difference in the growth between the virus-free and virus-infected trees. Regular virus sampling will be conducted on this site as part of the evaluation.

Variety demonstration

Also at Agriculture Victoria, Tatura, growers were able to see how 18 new and pre-commercial varieties were performing in the variety demonstration planting. Initially established in 2017, the number of varieties was increased in 2019 with the addition of the Prevar Stage 3 evaluation varieties. Varieties at this site now include: ANABP 01 (trademarked Bravo®), Kalei®, the South African pear Flare, a red spawn of the Corella pear, and precommercial Prevar varieties. The Kalei and Bravo have a good crop of fruit this season. It was a good opportunity for growers to better understand APFIP’s work and its goals of data-driven identification of varieties best suited to regional climatic conditions, in this case the Goulburn Valley and the increased heat that growers have observed.

Next gen rootstocks

The group were also able to view a next generation rootstock trial established at Jeftomson’s North Shepparton orchard by General Manager, Orchards, Brent Reeve. Brent sourced the new rootstocks for the trial from Tasmanian-based Tahune Fields Nursery while replanting a block to Alvina Gala on M26 in 2018.

Two demonstration rows of Alvina on CG 202, Supporter 4 and the two JM series –  JM1 and JM – were planted alongside the block on M26.

Thanks to Brent’s team harvest of the five rows of the block containing these trees had been delayed by a couple of days so that the group could see the crop load and the quality of the fruit.

The design of the planting allowed the growers to see the relative performance of all the rootstock/scion combinations all of which are showing superior growth/replant performance and productivity to the M26. The discussions amongst the group continued over a light BBQ.

APFIP is now planning to initiate similar demonstration plantings around the growing regions  so that all growers can see the advantages and relative performance  of the next generation rootstocks, as well as working with nurseries to  increase the availability of these rootstocks. APFIP is the Australian licensee for the JM series developed in Japan and owned by the JFTSCA ( Japan Fruit Tree Seedlings and Clonal Association ) and is currently  sublicensing  nurseries.

apfip field day varieties prevar

apfip field day tom frankcomb

apfip field day

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Michael Crisera, FGV, Dr Ian Goodwin, Agriculture Victoria Tatura, and Brent Reeve, Jeftomson for making this such a successful day.

APFIP is funded by Hort Innovation using the apple and pear research and development levy and funds from the Australian Government.

Further reading:

New variety and rootstock trials to help answer ‘what to plant?’

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