National macadamia breeding and evaluation program (MC19000)
What’s it all about?
This investment continues to progress genetic improvement for the Australian macadamia industry, following earlier levy investments including Macadamia second generation breeding and conservation (MC14000). It is working to produce new cultivars that will provide the industry an advantage over international competitors.
Specifically, the project is evaluating more than 5000 second generation progeny seedlings as well as creating a further 5000 progeny in order to deliver elite selections that will be put into grower trials and regional variety testing sites for further evaluation.
Throughout the project, the team will be selecting for the industry-defined target traits of yield, tree size, nut quality and pest resistance. These target traits have been selected with the future in mind and will have a focus on adaptation to warmer climates.
To learn more about the macadamia varieties produced by this investment, including information on how to access them, head to the Macadamia Innovation website.
In April 2020, the team collected seed from a polycross block of high breeding value genotypes, which were then germinated and grown in glasshouses over winter. The resultant seedlings were planted in a progeny field trial at Nambour in November 2020. The trial consisted of 1,094 progeny seedlings and 66 clones of standard and parent trees.
Harvesting and evaluation of the B2.1 trials, located at Bundaberg Research Facility, were completed in August 2020 with 2,200 trees assessed for yield. Some of the trees were also assessed for canopy width growth traits, height, nut-drop pattern, kernel recovery, kernel weight and nut weight.
The team inspected and evaluated the B2.2 trials, located on grower properties. The newest high-density plantings at Nambour have reduced first crop time to 3 years (nut-to-nut); a significant achievement in speeding up breeding.
To support the generation of new progeny and secondary test field trials, a total of 18 precocity trial elites were propagated by grafting in winter 2020. These will be planted at the NSW DPI Wollangbar site and the DAF Nambour site in 2021.
Preliminary field and lab data on phenotypic traits associated with husk spot resistance were collected and analysed, with a report generated.
Maintenance and evaluation of the wild germplasm trials at Tiaro and Alstonville was reported to Macadamia Industry Variety Improvement Committee (MIVIC). The team continued to share information with industry, with a field day as part of a MacGroup meeting planned for 2021.
Log in or sign up to read this article about the project, Breeding new varieties for a more profitable Australian industry, in the AMS News Bulletin, Summer 2020 edition, pp45-47.
You can also learn more in this article, Demand driven breeding of horticultural tree crops: proof of concept using macadamia, in the AMS News Bulletin, Spring 2020 edition, pp75-76.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Macadamia Fund