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Historical document

Understanding the demography and pests and diseases to identify opportunities for the Australian rubus industry (RB12008)

Key research provider: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries
Publication date: June, 2014

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Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.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 Rubus industry had more than doubled in size over the previous 10 years. Berries were now being grown in greater quantities and across more geographic areas than ever before. A demographic survey was conducted to capture the current status of the industry and to identify future research and development needs to ensure a profitable and sustainable future. More than 145 ha were planted to Rubus berries in Australia, with the largest areas under production in NSW and Victoria. While the industry had a core of long-term (>20 years) growers, a number of new growers were entering the industry. The majority of berries were being grown under field-based production systems at the time but survey responses indicated that the industry was undergoing a shift towards protected cropping, substrate, and hydroponic technologies. Around 10 per cent of the respondents produced berries organically or biodynamically. The peak harvest season occured between December and April with a small proportion of growers harvesting all year round. Year round harvesting was likely to increase as cropping cycles and production methods were modified and new varieties introduced. Survey respondents indicated key challenges for the industry in the next 10 years as pest and disease management, preventing exotic incursions, labour costs, availability of new varieties, market access, competition from imported berries and the development of new production technologies.

Pest and disease surveys were conducted through diagnostic laboratory submissions, field visits, discussions with growers and an online survey. Key pests identified included Green Stink Bug, Green Vegetable Bug, Two-spotted Mite and various caterpillars. Key diseases included Phytophthora, Yellow Rust and Botrytis. Two posters were developed to assist growers to diagnose key pests and diseases and to better understand conditions that were conducive to their occurrence. These have been disseminated to the industry through RABA.

Key recommendations included:

  • The development of a comprehensive pest and disease booklet or mobile app to
    cover all geographic locations and production systems.
  • Research into new production technologies including irrigation, hydroponic and
    protected cropping as adoption increases.
  • Issues including market access and labour costs needed to be addressed by the industry