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Ongoing project

Avocado industry capacity building – Western Australia (AV17006)

Key research provider: The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia

What’s it all about?

Contracted in late 2018, this investment supports the role and activities of a Western Australia Avocado Research Officer, to help develop the capacity and productivity of the state’s avocado industry. The officer is tasked with delivering best practice management information to growers and other industry participants in Western Australia, supporting national development activities within the region (such as forums and workshops), and helping address identified orchard productivity issues in the state through research activities.

Developments in capacity building and productivity research for the sector has continued with:

  • Results from the desktop review into weather conditions related to avocado fruit set were compiled into an industry report, which will be available soon
  • Growers and industry representatives were hosted at the DPIRD station in Manjimup during May 2021, where information about supply chain monitoring and fruit quality evaluation from project Implementing best practice of avocado fruit management and handling practices from farm to ripening (AV18000) was shared. An overview of the facility and the work it performs will be shared with growers as part of a Japanese export workshop, which is planned for June.
  • Preliminary consultations were held with select growers about managing the performance of fruit harvested in wet or moist conditions. The growers showed interest in evaluating the timing of fruit dipping after harvest, with an experiment to be implemented in the coming season.
  • Experiments to investigate irregular bearing and sustainable crop load management commenced, assessing the hypothesis that by removing fruit from inflorescences early in the season, trees will not waste carbohydrates on fruit that will not mature. The trial also uses new soil, fruit, leaf and trunk monitoring technology, helping growers understand this capability. Early trial results have been promising, indicating some positive response to treatment.

Over the last year, the project team have made progress on the following activities:

  • A desktop study into weather conditions that may have affected avocado fruit set during the spring of 2019 was performed to compare weather, temperature and other environmental conditions for three major avocado growing areas. Unfortunately, given the current understanding of avocado flowering and fruit set requirements, it was not possible to pinpoint a reason for the poor fruit set without performing more extensive measurements.

  • Capacity building activities included a series of presentations on phytophthora root rot and six spotted mite that were hosted in December at DPIRD station in Manjimup.

Investigation into irregular bearing and sustainable crop load management

This project has been extended to allow for an investigation into irregular bearing and sustainable crop load management in avocado. This research will explore the hypothesis that by removing fruit from inflorescences early in the season, trees will not waste carbohydrates on fruit that they will not bring to maturity and would be dropped in stages. This will allow trees to utilise carbohydrates more efficiently and keep more fruit, increasing overall grower profitability. The experimentation also aims to implement and highlight to growers the usage of technology for the monitoring of several aspects of plant physiology and behaviour and to collect the needed data for the evaluation of the experiment.

The research will produce recommendations to growers on sustainable crop load management and on the adoptability and use of current monitoring technology to facilitate decision making toward a more efficient orchard management. The extension will also further develop capabilities for the industry by generating industry and scientific publications. Examples of technology being evaluated include dendrometers, whole tree monitoring with autonomous stations, and leaf chlorophyll meters.

With project activities now in swing, Western Australian growers are encouraged to reach out to research officer Declan McCauley on 08 9777 0184 or at declan.mccauley@dpird.wa.gov.au for any information or queries relating to his work.

As well as communicating best practice in avocado growing in the state, one specific area of research for the project has been identified, with work being conducted into fruitlet drop shortly after flowering, after fruitlets have exceeded a size of 5.5mm. Here, Declan’s work is tying into that of another Hort Innovation Avocado Fund project, Maximising yield and reducing seasonal variation (AV16005).

ACT NOW

Learn more about Declan in this profile piece, run in the Department’s March 2019 e-newsletter.

The project has also been updating resources for avocado growers on the Department’s website, including…

Declan Macauley has been appointed as the new state-based Research Officer, within the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. With the officer role in place, initial project activities will include conducting consultation and a ‘needs analysis’ in conjunction with the Western Australia avocado industry, to help guide the specific work and areas of focus for the project.

Related levy funds
Details

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Avocado Fund