Evaluation of new pear rootstocks (AP04001)
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Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.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?
The Australian pear industry was based in the Goulburn Valley of Victoria. The processing industry was now requiring considerably less volume than 10 years ago (69,400 tonnes in 1997 to less than 40,000tonnes in 2009), total pear production had also fallen from 173,600 to 134,700 tonnes over the same period. The reliance on processing by growers had resulted in little or no industry innovation and development particularly in the area of new rootstocks.
The average age of trees in the pear industry was an issue (more than 50 years) which was having an impact on production volumes and fruit quality. Almost 100% of trees in the Goulburn Valley were planted on seedling rootstocks. Newer more intensive plantings were not well suited to the use of seedling as a rootstock as it’s too vigorous and for most varieties was not precocious enough.
The aim of the project was to identify pear rootstocks that were adapted to the Goulburn Valley in the first instance and that were precocious. Production from new orchard plantings needed to be in the vicinity of 150 tonnes cumulative yield per hectare at the end of the first 5 years after planting.
Rootstock trials took at least 10 years to show reliable results. The trial being conducted at the time was just 5 years old and ongoing assessment was required. Initial observations had shown that yield performance of the rootstocks could vary greatly depending on the variety used. Early indications were that BM2000 was well suited for the Williams and Packham varieties, the seedling rootstock D6 had performed best with Corella. These observations were based on measurement of crop load against trunk cross sectional diameter and cumulative yield. The Corella/D6 result was somewhat of an aberration as 30 per cent of trees in the trial on this combination died in the first year and the balance lack thrift. Based on this result it was not recommended that this rootstock/variety combination should be planted.
An identified shortage of consulting expertise with regard to pear production was also addressed in this project. Three visits were arranged for a leading European pear expert to visit pear growing regions in Australia. Future success for the Australian pear industry was based on growers being able to maximize returns from their existing orchards. The consultant visits focused on existing plantings as well as new plantings with visit to the Perth Hill and Donybrook in W.A. Lenswood in S.A, and the Goulburn and Yarra Valleys in Victoria.
These visits assisted in Australian growers gaining an understanding and appreciation of the value that expert consultants could bring to their businesses particularly in the area of intensive pear production.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the voluntary financial support of the apple and pear industry.
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