Facilitating the development of the Australian almond industry (AL99001)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
This project focused primarily on identifying and developing opportunities to implement the industry's strategic objectives. These objectives were based on developing and expanding the Australian industry. This fundamental strategy was recognized as being crucial to the long term profitability and viability of the industry as the production levels were too low to provide adequate critical mass for competitive export trade, or adequate volumes for efficient processing.
The strategy was to be progressed by improving on farm productivity and therefore profitability. This ensured a competitive industry that would then set the climate for further investment and subsequent expansion. The industry would then be in an excellent position to compete in the international markets, an imperative if the industry was to progress beyond dependence on the domestic market.
For this strategy to be successfully implemented, it was recognized that the world's largest producer, California, would need to be surpassed in the critical KPI's of product quality, on-farm productivity and profitability. It was well recognized that to be internationally competitive, the Australian industry needed to be more efficient and flexible than our competitors in California who were some 50 times larger.
This project had proven particularly successful in achieving the set objectives, and importantly had also identified and had put in place the key components of a program to ensure that the progress continued in the future and the gap widens.
It was a fact that the Australian almond industry had improved its average productivity by 45 per cent (from 5.5kg to 8.0 kg per tree) since 1997. The “typical” well managed Australian orchard now produces 10 to 12 kg per tree, with trial work instigated by the IDM now achieving 18 to 20kg using new technologies. Adoption of these new technologies was occurring very rapidly, as results indicated.
The Australian industry was now well positioned to build on these productivity gains which came initially from fine-tuning traditional Californian based techniques for Australian conditions. The research work instigated from this project and carried out under AL01004 and continued under AL04002 significantly improved on this position. Latest indications were that it was possible to achieve 4 tonnes of kernel per ha and there were strong indications this figure may have gone as high as 5 tonnes, depending upon the rootstocks, cultivars and management employed. This could be compared with the latest Californian production claims of 2,800 lbs per acre (3.1 tonnes per ha) Freeman, 2003.
Of course, this success also brought with it new challenges as the industry began to identify new limitations and boundaries to further development and expansion. These primarily were limited natural resources, with the major ones likely to be suitable land, water and pollination services.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of the Almond Board of Australia and the almond industry.
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