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Ongoing project

Advancing sustainable and technology driven apple orchard production systems (AP19003)

Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

What’s it all about?

This investment is improving crop load management different climates across Australia’s growing regions by providing the knowledge and tools needed by the apple and pear industry to consistently deliver fruit that meets market specifications.

It is establishing research trials and demonstration sites at the experimental Sundial Orchard at Agriculture Victoria’s Tatura SmartFarm, as well as in commercial orchards, to help take this information to growers. The unique Sundial Orchard conditions, with different light incidence and exposure throughout, will allow this project to investigate the effects of fruit/leaf position and sunlight exposure on fruit quality, floral initiation, photosynthesis and stomatal conductance.

Specifically, the project is:

  • Investigating how fruit position and light exposure impact colour development, sunburn damage, floral initiation and fruit quality
  • Exploring the physiological mechanisms (that is, the chemical signals) involved in the impacts of high crop load on floral initiation and flower development, and subsequent fruit size
  • Developing a rapid orchard assessment tool using sensing technologies to determine crop load for optimum fruit size in apple orchards.

This project is part of the PIPS3 program for the apple and pear industry (the third iteration of the Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils program). The other investments that make up this scope of work are:

The work done through this project, and the PIPS3 program, will be communicated to industry extensively through the levy-funded National apple and pear industry communications program (AP18000) and Future Orchards program Delivery of apple and pear Future Orchards extension program (AP15005). You can sign up to receive industry communications at  

Initial planning of the project delivery is underway, and outputs have been distributed including:

  • An article and video introducing the project, it’s key objectives for industry and the activities that will be undertaken was written and submitted on the APAL website online.
  • Another video has been produced which describesthe Cartographer™, the mobile sensing platform developed by Green Atlas to measure orchard parameters. 

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund