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Regional rootstock trial site planting to get underway in 2022

Demonstration and evaluation sites of next generation apple rootstocks will be established in apple growing regions nationally this year.

Several exciting developments that will benefit the Australian grower by providing greater access to rootstock performance information took place during 2021, paving the way for trial site establishment in 2022.

The two major developments are:

  • progress towards planting of rootstock demonstration sites in all growing regions
  • signing of a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) for the transfer of the Orange series of rootstocks for evaluation, allowing APAL to commence further evaluation of these, initially at its repository site in Tasmania.

Stoolbed trials of next generation apple rootstock, Tas

Rootstock demonstration sites

APAL took on management of the former Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program (APFIP) in 2021 as part of its industry services funded by Pink Lady commercial operations.

Rootstock trials form part of the new Future Orchards® program, also funded from 2021 by the Pink Lady business. Establishment of demonstration sites for the rootstocks will be taking place in 2022and 2023. The sites will be incorporated into commercial blocks of commercial varieties on growers’ sites, where they can be viewed as part of Future Orchard events.

The 1–2 hectare sites will be planted with the grower’s apple variety selection on a control rootstock of M9 or M26, alongside the same apple variety on a new gen rootstock, with the same training and management system. The intention is to trial approximately six rootstocks in addition to the control at each site with 25 trees of each of the rootstocks.

Depending slightly upon regional differences, the demonstrated rootstocks could include Cornell Geneva, JM series or other newly introduced M9 clones; all certified virus free.

APAL is working with the grower and the nursery supplying their trees to enable growers to see the relative performance in their local region of rootstocks such as CG202, CG41, CG11, JM1, JM7, and the new French selection M9 clones Pajar 1(Lancep) and 2(Cepiland).

During 2022 sites will be planted in Kirup, WA; Adelaide Hills, SA; Batlow, NSW and Stanthorpe, Qld. In 2023 the planting will continue in Tasmania, the Goulburn Valley, Vic and possibly also Southern Victoria and Orange, NSW.

Orange rootstock series

This series of rootstocks was bred and selected by NSW DPI in in projects led by Dr Jill Campbell and Lester Snare between 1996 and 2010 with the support of apple R&D levy funding. The aim of the projects was to breed woolly apple aphid-resistant rootstocks with dwarfing characteristics, low susceptibility to Phytophthora (crown rots), favourable nursery stool bed production and TCSA yield potential comparable or better than the current standards. The project resulted in the selection of four or five ‘elite’ stocks in three size categories:

  • Semi- dwarf MM106 (Group 1)
  • Dwarf M26-M9 (Group 2 Elite)
  • Very dwarf< M9 (Group 3).

These rootstocks will now be evaluated for their potential in commercial production orcharding systems alongside existing industry benchmarks and, where possible, against next generation rootstocks also.

The first Orange rootstock series plant material was transferred to APAL in late October 2021. Work is underway to get the first evaluation trees propagated and planted into the first evaluation site over the next 18 months. APAL is working with the NSW DPI team to get as much plant material as possible from the foundation stool beds in the coming winter.

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