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Future Orchards Harvest Series 2024 wrap

Industry Best Practice

The Future Orchards® Harvest Orchard Series for 2024 concluded in Western Australia last week, providing valuable insights for fruit growers across Australia. 

Spanning from 18 January to 18 March 2024, the eight events led by local Front Line Advisors offered a platform for orchardists to review the season, discuss best practices and explore innovations in the field through the harvest. 

The series kicked off in Shepparton on 18 January 2024, hosted by MJ Hall and Sons. Discussions centred around chemical thinning strategies on Gala strains and maturity monitoring in the lead up to harvest.  

MJ Hall and Sons

In Stanthorpe on 23 January 2024, Nicoletti Orchards welcomed participants to explore maturity testing techniques and efficiency strategies crucial for a successful harvest. Attendees engaged in discussions on Alternaria and Glomerella control trials completed by Orchard Services under the Future Orchards® Trial Program, gaining valuable insights into potential changes to their disease management strategies. 

Southern Victoria was the next stop on 1 February 2024, with Bellevue Orchard hosting discussions on harvest timing and key indicators essential for optimising yield and quality. The Bellevue team discussed their grafting strategies, potted nursery trees and blocks approaching harvest with the attendees. The day finished with a maturity testing demonstration and discussion around optimal fruit quality for different storage intervals. 

Bellevue Orchard

In Orange on 6 February 2024, the focus was on biosecurity, with the Orange Agricultural Institute hosting a workshop on Varroa mite management, emphasising the importance of preparedness against potential threats as well as the impact of this new pest on beehive availability and management. 

Lenswood Cold Stores in South Australia hosted a group of growers on 6 February 2024, where attendees witnessed a demonstration on maturity testing including the Rubens Technologies multispectral sensor (non destructive) which will be used for maturity testing this year on site. 

On 7 February 2024, Batlow RSL welcomed participants to a biosecurity workshop, followed by networking opportunities and discussions on Varroa mite management. Joined by local apiarists, growers were able to discuss bee management as well as the impacts that Varroa mite may bring to the region. 

Hansen Orchards in Tasmania was the venue for discussions on Gala apple maturity testing and insights from a Prevar Variety Demonstration block on 13 February 2024. Participants discussed emerging varieties and performance of some pear varieties in the local climate. 

Tasmania

 

Tasmania

The series concluded in Western Australia on 18 March 2024, hosted by Prime Organics. Participants delved into fruit quality and cold chain compliance, learning from a trial tracking apples across the supply chain. 

In a recent Future Orchards funded trial, Lauren Viney from Escavox shared insights on tracking cartons with dataloggers during their journey to the store. These devices recorded varying air temperatures, emphasising the importance of preserving fruit shelf life and quality. The trial’s findings, involving two WA packers, will soon be disseminated through presentations, reports and articles, aiming to enhance consumer experiences with fresh fruit. 

Additionally, Lauren Mann from APAL provided an update on the national Orchard Census, noting that data collection in WA is nearing completion at 90 per cent. She expressed gratitude to WA producers for their contributions and announced that participants will soon access orchard block mapping data through an online dashboard. 

Western Australia. Photo credit: Pomewest

Throughout the series, industry experts of the state Front Line Advisors shared their knowledge and insights, fostering collaboration and innovation within the fruit growing community and APAL wishes to thank them for their time and effort. We would also like to extend our thanks to Sumitomo Chemical Australia for providing participants with a bottle of starch-iodine solution to assist with their preharvest maturity testing. 

Acknowledgments 

The success of the Future Orchards Harvest Series wouldn’t have been possible without the gracious hosting of the following orchards/organisations: 

  • MJ Hall and Sons 
  • Nicoletti Orchards 
  • Bellevue Orchard 
  • Orange Agricultural Institute 
  • Lenswood Cold Stores 
  • Hansen Orchards 
  • Prime Organics 

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