National almond breeding and evaluation program (AL17005)
What was it all about?
From 2018 to 2023, this investment continued to run a targeted breeding program to develop new almond varieties with improved production characteristics, while progressing the evaluation of varieties from earlier iterations of the program and from overseas breeding programs.
The aim of this ongoing work is to provide industry access to new varieties that are high-yielding, with self-fertility, improved disease tolerance, closed shells and desirable visual and eating qualities.
This program built on the knowledge gained from earlier investment Australian almond variety evaluation and commercialisation program (AL12015) and has been successful in releasing new varieties to the almond industry, including self-fertile varieties.
The Australian almond industry has seen a large increase in growth and has expanded to 60,463 hectares. The program aims to introduce new superior almond varieties to the industry, so growers have access to a wider range of varieties with beneficial traits such as self-fertility and disease tolerance.
Crossing of the most important parents occurred for three years from 2019 – 2021 and the resulting progeny were planted at the Almond Centre Experimental (ACE) orchard in Loxton. The progeny from the 2019 crosses were harvested for the first time in 2023 while the secondary and larger scale tertiary evaluations are ongoing. The importance of self-fertile varieties for the Australian industry has increased considering the recent incursion of varroa mite.
Development of a molecular marker for detection of bacterial spot tolerance in almond varieties is looking promising. Ongoing evaluations from previous programs has led to the commercialisation of one new variety, AuroraB, which is in the process of Plant Breeders Rights registration with IP Australia.
Fact sheets on all new varieties from the program are available on the Almond Board of Australia website here.
This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Almond Fund