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Completed project

Nuffield Scholarship for those in the horticultural industry (AH14006)

Key research provider: Nuffield Australia
Publication date: Monday, August 6, 2018

What was it all about?

This project supported a 2015 Nuffield Scholarship, awarded to Thomas Eastlake from Young in NSW to study handling techniques of cherries from tree to packhouse. Nuffield Scholarships are awarded to nurture a global perspective among young farmers.

The 16-week program included travel to the US, Canada, Chile, Italy, Ireland as well as the Philippines, Hong Kong and China to develop an international picture of cold chain management, post-harvest fruit handling and packaging of cherries.

The scholar concluded in a report in 2017 that the quality of cherry production in Australia has improved significantly on farm, but greater focus is needed post farm gate to optimise shelf life, minimise damage and provide the best presentation of fruit.

Findings included:

  • The Australian grower produces a high-quality cherry but the cold chain management practice, while better than some parts of the world, can be improved to maximise quality for the consumer, and profitability for the grower
  • Cherries must be introduced to the cold chain immediately after picking, with care taken to ensure cherries are cold prior to shipping. This not only maintains fruit quality but longer shelf life provides more marketing options. 

  • Better presentation of fruit (and fruit of a consistent standard) gives consumers increased confidence in product which is likely to improve largely stagnant retail sales
  • Growers should physically follow their fruit through to the retail level to check that quality is maintained beyond the farm gate
  • Mechanised picking methods overseas can result in damaged fruit, maintaining the need for labour in the orchard
  • Fully automated packing lines as used in the US will come in time, limited currently by smaller industry and pack house sizes.


Related levy funds


Funding statement:
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2018. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).