Accelerating development of the Australian custard apple industry, new variety development and commercialisation phase 2 (CU13001)
What was it about?
This investment aimed to accelerate the development of the Australian custard apple industry by providing better varieties and rootstocks, better crop management techniques and extension of technologies to new and existing growers.
Regarding varieties and rootstocks…
- With green-skin varieties developed in a previous phase of the project, in this phase there was a key focus on breeding and commercialisation of red-skinned varieties with low seed number, good fruit set and good flavour.
- Some 3000 seedlings with red- and green-skinned parents were assessed during the project, with new selections progressing to grower testing sites. Two red-skin selections advanced to the small-scale grower testing phase (selections 649-1 and 591), with this work to be continued by the project’s new iteration, funded through New custard apple varieties and enhanced industry productivity (CU16002). The research team reported that feedback from both growers and marketers in relation to 649-1 has been “extremely positive”, with an update provided in the winter 2017 edition of The Custard Apple newsletter. Two green-skin selections advanced to large-scale testing. Again, this work will be ongoing through project CU16002.
- The project progressed the use of genetic techniques for selecting and breeding varieties based on skin colour and fruit set.
- Clonal variety and rootstock trials were established during the course of the project, using elite selections from the breeding program. Due to the juvenility of the trials, recommendations for rootstocks and varieties in the various growing regions of Australia cannot yet be made, but work will continue through CU16002.
Regarding crop management…
- The project was responsible for staying on top of new emerging pests and diseases for the Australian custard apple industry, with three pests and two diseases added to the industry’s integrated pest and disease manual as a result, including the common auger beetle (Xylopsocus gibbicollis), tree root weevil (Leptopius robustus) and branch dieback disease (caused by Lasiodiplodia). The information added to the manual includes identification, monitoring and control options.
- Chemical efficacy trials were completed, evaluating insecticide application for the control of mealybug, and fungicide application for the control of purple blotch. Information was incorporated into the integrated pest and disease manual.
The project completed a series of grower field days, regional tours, individual farm visits and resources. Regular updates were also provided in The Custard Apple newsletter, including the ‘What to do over the next three months’ series of articles.
This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Custard Apple Fund