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Ongoing project

Experimental summerfruit orchard – phase II (SF17006)

Key research provider: The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

What’s it all about?

The world-class Stonefield Field Laboratory (also known as the Summerfruit Experimental Orchard) was established at DEDJTR-Tatura in Victoria under an earlier Hort Innovation Summerfruit Fund investment.

The site contains trials for innovative high-density plantings, multiple rootstocks and cultivars, alternative canopy architectures and advanced irrigation and fertigation technologies. This investment is tasked with carrying on this work.

At the time of project contracting in late 2018, the trials were reaching full production, meaning a substantial volume of data is set to become available during the life of the project to inform advice around orchard design and agronomic practices, and help growers achieve optimum fruit quality and yield.

The project has conducted the research program for season 2020/21 through a suite of 11 field experiments in the stone fruit experimental orchard at the Tatura SmartFarm to determine the effect of agronomic management practices (crop load, rootstock, irrigation management and canopy architecture) on fruit quality in selected cultivars of peach, nectarine, apricot and plum.

The production (yield, fruit quality) data for season 2020/21 and associated summaries for each agronomic experiment are available online at

Several experiments have been set up at the experimental research orchard at Tatura to investigate the effect of management practices including crop load, rootstock, irrigation management and canopy architecture, on fruit quality in selected cultivars of peach, nectarine, apricot and plum.

Ultimately the team will develop production protocols that will guide growers to produce consistent high quality stonefruit to meet the expectations of export and domestic markets.

Local growers have been able to see the work with several orchard field walks and harvest facility tours held in recent months.

The team has posted information about the trials online for other growers to keep up to date with progress. This includes a series of 360-degree virtual orchard tours at various stages of fruit growth development stages, which are worth a look.

In addition to the outcomes of the experimental trials, the orchards are providing the summerfruit industry with a resource for grower training and education. Later, roadshows will take the findings to key growing regions, so keep an eye out for announcements.

Regular updates are being provided through monthly Profitable Stonefruit Network newsletters, which you can sign up for here.


Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Summerfruit Fund