Increasing yield and quality in tropical horticulture with better pollination, fruit retention and nutrient distribution (PH16001)
What was it all about?
From 2018 to 2023, this investment investigated how to increase yield and crop quality by better understanding cross-pollination effects on fruit and nut quality. The overall aim was to increase the productivity and competitiveness of Australia's horticultural industries by optimising crop pollination efficiency.
The research team conducted 20 experiments across 15 farms looking at avocados, macadamias, strawberries, mangoes, almonds, and lychees. These experiments determined:
- The effect of distance to another cultivar on the paternity and quality of avocado, macadamia, strawberry, mango, and lychee fruit.
- The levels of self-paternity and cross-paternity in almond cultivars.
- The effects of crop nutrition on yield, size, quality, and paternity of avocado, macadamia, and strawberry fruit.
- Whether whole-tree macadamia yields could be increased by cross-pollination.
These experiments were coupled with assessments of hyperspectral scanners. This technology can identify and quantify materials, which assists in predicting nutrient concentrations in avocado, macadamia, strawberry, mango, and lychee plants during pollination and fruit development.
Further experiments assessed hyperspectral scanners for predicting the time-to-ripeness of avocado fruit and predicting quality attributes of strawberry, mango, and lychee fruit.
Based on their findings:
- Avocado growers were advised that planting specific types of trees closer together could help with pollination and make bigger fruit.
- Macadamia growers learned that planting different types of trees closer together is important because the trees rely a lot on cross-pollination.
- Strawberry growers were advised to bring more bees to their farms to ensure the fruit has enough seeds.
- Mango growers were advised a mixture of self-pollination and cross-pollination produces that mango fruit, and they can use scanners to check fruit quality.
- Almond growers were advised to plant trees that can pollinate themselves to ensure they have enough nuts.
- Lychee growers discovered that cross-pollination makes bigger and redder fruit, and scanners can help predict the fruit's taste.
The project team produced a podcast, video, factsheet, poster, 13 articles for growers, and 17 scientific papers. Articles were published in Talking Avocados, Australian Macadamia Society News Bulletin, Australian Berry Journal, Mango Matters, In A Nutshell, Australian Nutgrower, and Living Lychee.