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Research insights shared with growers at R&D Day

Research & Extension

At the APAL R&D Day on 1 September, researchers provided updates on ongoing apple and pear levy-funded work to improve orchard productivity and sustainability, reduce dependence on inputs and tackle issues ranging from biennial bearing to codling moth.

Research updates

Pollination – Early results of work on pollination under nets to inform orchard design suggest bees that can easily access flowers beyond the orchard block travel further, collect more pollen from a wider range of sources and are healthier than those placed in the centre of a netted block they cannot find their way out of. However, the bees that do not leave the block collected more apple pollen and so may as a result provide better pollination. Contact Dr Katja Hogendoorn, University of Adelaide.

PIPS3 Program updates

Codling moth control (PIPS3) – Previous releases of the imported codling moth parasitoid wasp Mastrus ridens did lead to a decline in codling moth numbers, but the wasp appears not to have overwintered. A new colony of Mastrus has been imported and is being mass-reared in preparation for release while researchers also investigate how to improve establishment. Contact Dr Greg Lefoe, AgriBio.

Improving irrigation and nitrogen use (PIPS3) – An Excel-based tool – SINATA – incorporating knowledge of tree water use has been developed to forecast irrigation and nitrogen requirements based on weather and regional soil characteristics data as a first step to fully automating irrigation. Researchers are looking for growers interested in trialling the tool and are also working with software developers on a simple, user-friendly interface. Contact Dr Nigel Swarts, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania.

Soil health and plant nutrition (PIPS3) – Early results from work assessing the impact of orchard floor management on a range of soil and plant nutrition and quality aspects found variations in soil temperature and also fruit maturity, soluble sugars and firmness between the different inter-row/tree-line treatments, as well as a reduction in compaction. Contact Dr Sally Bound, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania.

Pear rootstocks (PIPS3) – Blush pear cultivars performed better for both yield and colour on quince rootstocks than on BP1 or D6 rootstocks. Contact Dr Lexie McClymont, Agriculture Victoria.

Biennial bearing (PIPS3) – Susceptibility to biennial bearing varies between cultivars. A loss of yield in the off years has an impact on fruit quality. Crop load management can be achieved though chemical, mechanical or hand thinning. Work on identifying signalling compounds is ongoing. Contact Tim Plozza, Agriculture Victoria.

Further information

Find out more about the PIPS3 Program projects.

Visit Hort Innovation’s Apple and Pear Fund website to read about current apple and pear levy-funded projects.

See how your apple and pear levy investment aligns to industry goals.


crop load and thinning netting nutrition and irrigation pears pests PIPS research soils varieties and rootstock

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