New research helps stone fruit grower’s battle brown rot
26 August 2015
New research by Victorian scientists at the AgriBio Centre is set to increase stone fruit production by helping growers better protect their crops from brown rot.
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) Plant Pathologist Oscar Villalta and his team have led the development of two new tools and a control strategy to help growers predict, control and prevent brown rot losses in different Australian stone fruit production systems.
"Brown rot is a destructive fungal disease which impacts on orchard profitability, fruit quality and market access, costing the Victorian stone fruit industry an average loss of $19 million in spoilt fruit each year," Dr Villalta said.
"Research into flower and fruit susceptibility conducted at DEDJTR AgriBio, has determined the key infection criteria required for brown rot infections in plums, apricots, nectarines and peaches."
"This data has now been used to develop and validate a new risk management tool that growers can use to target their fungicide applications for effective blossom blight and brown rot control.
"The tool allows growers to more accurately predict infection periods, allowing them to choose the most appropriate fungicides and tailor spray programs for maximum effectiveness.
Data from trials conducted in orchards in Victoria and New South Wales was also used to develop a rot risk tool for growers to determine the risk of brown rot before harvest and its likelihood and severity in fruit after harvest, which can help growers determine where to market their produce.
Dr Villalta said both decision support tools were tested in a series of replicated and commercial field trials conducted during growing seasons since 2012.
"The results demonstrated that orchards which followed the risk management tool guide achieved consistent reductions in post-harvest brown rot," Dr Villalta said.
"Additionally, the amount of brown rot that developed during post-harvest storage, transport and marketing could be accurately predicted by fruit sampled close to harvest and tested using the rot risk tool."
"This can be used to inform packers and processors on how to appropriately segregate and treat batches of fruit according to their brow rot risk, resulting in fewer post-harvest losses."
"Both tools assist stone fruit growers to control brown rot in their orchards more effectively."
"This will enhance Victoria's quality fruit production, reduce production costs and losses, and ensure Victorian fruit meets the requirements for premium export markets."
The new tools and control strategy are described in the brochure 'Best Practices for Brown Rot Management'.
This project was funded by Summerfruit Australia Ltd and the Victorian Government.
Categorised under: Agriculture,Biosecurity