Future Orchards® Trial Program
The Future Orchards Trial Program commenced this year with the aim of responding to emerging issues and enabling growers to explore new concepts on-farm and lead investigations into issues that concern them.
A wide range of applications were received, and the below projects have been successful for the 2023/24 year:
Monitoring apple shipments to measure temperature variation in the supply chain
In this project, Pomewest will monitor a range of apple shipments from the packhouse to the distribution centre and retail store to ensure optimal conditions are being met along the supply chain.
Bio-digestion of apple pulp– can it be turned into a soil conditioner?
In this small scale trial, Bellevue Orchard in Southern Victoria will evaluate whether waste apple pulp (from their juice factory) can be processed via a biodigester to make a soil conditioner. The output product will be evaluated for safety, nutritional value and quality.
Improving control of Alternaria leaf and fruit spot and Glomerella fruit rot
Orchard Services, based in Stanthorpe, Queensland, will evaluate and compare a range of timings, application intervals, spray volumes and products to measure their efficacy against Alternaria and Glomerella at a total of 4 trial sites.
Invigorating trees that have stopped growing prior to filling their canopy
Fruit Growers Victoria will lead a small trial to evaluate the best method to improve growth in trees that have stopped growing without filling their canopy. Techniques including harder pruning, additional fertiliser and other inputs will be evaluated across this season.
Aerial drone fungicide applications – a viable option in apple orchards?
The team at RW Squibb & Sons will evaluate the impacts of aerial drone spraying on their orchard with the aim of establishing the best flight pattern to optimise coverage, the disease control efficacy relative to conventional spray applications and the cost/time different between conventional and aerial applications.
Stem clipping – efficiency and end result of using two different types of clippers
MJ Halls & Sons, based in the Goulburn Valley, will evaluate the difference between two different types of stem clippers and their impact on relative labour efficiency and cost per bin. Both a chest mounted and handheld product will be compared.
Releasing beneficial insects – a cost effective alternative to a standard spray program?
Plunkett Orchards, based in the Goulburn Valley, will undertake a release of beneficial insects and measure the relative impacts vs a more traditional spray program. In particular, the impact on scale and mealybug and relative cost: benefit ratio will be explored.
Dormancy breaking to reduce the impact of blind wood in young trees
Lenne’s Orchard, based in the Goulburn Valley, will evaluate the effect of dormancy breaking on young ANABP-01 (Bravo®) trees in relation to the number of branches on younger wood. The hope is that this will reduce the impact of ‘blind’ wood in this and other blocks.
Factors impacting internal browning in Pink Lady® (Cripps Pink and related strains)
Agrofresh will evaluate a range of orchard blocks to determine which co-factors appear to be influence internal browning. With new preharvest techniques becoming increasingly popular in the industry, this evaluation will explore factors for internal browning and to better inform management decisions for growers.
These projects are all underway with results and/or project updates to be provided in winter 2024. We look forward to seeing and sharing the outcomes of these projects and highlighting key findings at future events.
The Future Orchards Trial Program funding is now exhausted for the 2023/24 season. The 2024/25 intake will open July 1st 2024 on the APAL website with growers and other industry stakeholders welcome to submit expressions of interest at that time.
For further information on the program, please contact Nic Finger [email protected]