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Historical document

Planting survey for the Australian prune industry (DP08001)

Key research provider: NSW Department of Industry and Investment
Publication date: June, 2009

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Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.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 prune industry had never had access to accurate planting statistics prior to this project. To date there had been no accurate figures on area planted to prunes, number of trees and varieties planted. Past statistics were based on estimates and to an extent anecdotal evidence.

Production figures and prune grower lists had previously come from packers who received dried fruit from prune growers. These production figures did not take into account growers who in some years only sold to the fresh fruit market.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) had production and planting figures for plums and prunes grouped together. These figures did not relate to those for prunes only. Prune production in Australia averaged around 4000 ton per year, far lower than the combined numbers from ABS. 2003 ABS data (Appendix 2) did not correlate well with data collected in this survey. Historical data was also obtained from The Australian Prune Industry Manual.

In 2008 mailing lists indicated that there were approximately 130 prune growers in Australia. Each of these growers was asked to complete a survey form (Appendix 1) and was either interviewed by the investigator or returned the information to her. Statistics were then compiled and a new mailing list formed. Information about growers who had left the industry was also collected from Yenda Producers and Angas Park Fruit Company.

These new statistics showed that production in the growing areas of South Australia (Barossa Valley and Riverland) and Young NSW had declined and the Riverina area of NSW and Victoria had grown. There were no new plantings of prunes in South Australia and very few in Young. The majority of new plantings were found in the Riverina. In this region 41.2 per cent of trees were five years old and under.

Future research for the Australian prune industry needed to focus on the Riverina where issues such as irrigation, dehydration and climate change would become more important in the future. With the threat of climate change it may have also be necessary to look at other areas of Australia that would be suitable for prune production.


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Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the voluntary financial support of the dried prune industry.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2010. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).