In Agriculture

Victoria Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh

Victorian Government Science Delivers Premium Fruit

Victor P Taffa

The Coalition Government is using sound waves to establish when fruit is ready to pick so it gets to market looking and tasting its best.

Research so far on Plums alone has the potential to boost Victorian fruit growers’ income by $14 Million in coming seasons.

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Premium Fruit Project aimed to unlock the secrets of how breeding, management and environment influenced fruit quality.

Speaking at a stone fruit orchard near Swan Hill today, Mr. Walsh said scientists from the Department of Primary Industries were using modelling, sound waves (sensing) technology and plant pathology and physiology to better understand factors influencing fruit quality.

“The Project aims to develop knowledge of the shelf life and quality impacts on stone fruit and apples including temperature, humidity, sunlight, fertilisation and irrigation timing and quantify the findings at the orchard.” Mr. Walsh said.

“It also looks at the impacts of temperature and humidity along the production chain. Initial research has focused on newer variety plums which taste, look and yield differently to those traditionally grown in Victoria.”

Mr. Walsh said DPI scientists had used sound waves from an ultra sound machine to rapidly determine the elements of fruit maturity, such as optimum firmness and flavour.

“The project helped predict the best time to harvest each variety to achieve premium eating quality.” Mr. Walsh said.

“From these findings they drafted guidelines for fruit growers which covered areas such as when and how to pick the plum varieties, optimum storage times and potential ripening levels after harvest.”

Mr. Walsh said last season Sun World variety Plum growers received the first of these guidelines which resulted in improved yield and fruit quality.

“These findings have benefits throughout the supply chain.” Mr. Walsh said.

“An independent cost benefit analysis suggests adopting such guidelines could result in an extra 1,840 tonnes of fruit on Victoria’s premium market by the 2012-13 season; worth more than $14 Million.”

Stonefruit growers and marketers have welcomed the project and praised the new guidelines.

“The project in concert with seasonal and market conditions paved the way for improved yield and fruit quality that was maintained through the supply chain.” Montague Fresh Spokesman Rowan Little said.

“Overall it helped to drive profitability for the Sun World fruit varieties.”

The Premium Fruit Project has been funded by DPI and Montague Fresh and Horticulture Australia Ltd.


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