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Completed project

Profitable pears: maximising productivity and quality of new pear varieties (AP12002)

Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Publication date: Thursday, December 13, 2018

What was it all about?

This project, which ran from 2013 into 2018, investigated management techniques and physiological mechanisms to increase the profitability of growing red-blushed pears. The work was carried out at an experimental orchard, the Pear Field Laboratory, with new red-blushed pear varieties previously developed under the National Pear Breeding Program.

The researchers looked at the effects and benefits of factors including tree density, rootstocks, tree training, irrigation, root pruning, plant growth regulators and nitrogen requirements. They used a fruit grader equipped with optical and near-infrared cameras to measure fruit quality.

Economic modelling was also undertaken, looking at expected initial returns from growing new pear cultivars. The economic analysis was based on variety ANP-0131 (Deliza) – which was found in the research to be the most vigorous and productive new red-blushed variety. Deliza was grafted to Quince A rootstock, with a Beurré Hardy interstem, and trained on an Open Tatura trellis with multiple leaders. Three densities were compared: 1481 (low), 2222 (high) and 4444 (ultra-high) trees per hectare.

Key findings from the research included:

  • Drip irrigation optimised yield, fruit size and water use efficiency outcomes in comparison to microjet treatments

  • The rootstock tested increased precocity and total yield in the first three years of bearing, while use of BP1 rootstock was detrimental to yield

  • Yield in the first three bearing years increased from low density (1481 trees per hectare) to high density (2222 trees per hectare), but no further yield benefit was found at the even higher density

  • Economic models predict that high-density planting systems (2222 trees per hectare) would be most profitable, with payback periods of between seven and 11 years, depending on pack-outs, prices and yield

  • Modelling of nitrogen use and movement indicated that ANP-0118 bearing trees allocated approximately 60 per cent of applied nitrogen to fruit, with 13 per cent of applied nitrogen lost by leaching under drip irrigation.

The researchers note that their results suggest growing the new red-blushed pears would be a profitable investment for pear growers in areas such as the Goulburn Valley, if done in a modern orchard system characterised by high-density plantings of compact trees that use water efficiently, fruit early in life and produce consistent high yields of quality.

ACT NOW

Agriculture Victoria has a dedicated website for the Profitable Pears research, making all project experiments, findings and resources including instructional videos more easily accessible for growers. Take a look at www.hin.com.au/networks/blush-pear-research.

Find a selection of specific resources below…