Location: Tatura Horticulture Centre of Excellence

Report: Elizabeth Mace (Acting IDO, Present as Director)

Host: Dr Ian Goodwin

Overview: Walk through the experimental pear orchard to present and discuss:

  • Tree planting systems (tree size, poor fruit set, pruning, deficit irrigation)
  • Luca Corelli’s (Visiting Italian scientist) Experiment
  • Root stock results
  • Drip vs. Micro irrigation results

Attendance was excellent and it was great to see many of the emerging leader attendees also make the time to come to the walk.

We started in Luca’s experiment. Here he has set up three levels of irrigation to study the flux of water and assimilate (i.e. carbohydrate) to pear fruit. A great deal of interest was shown in the data collecting tools being used including the sap flow sensors (to measure transpiration), the photosynthesis meter (to measure assimilation and leaf fluorescence) and displacement transducers attached to fruit that continuously measure fruit diameter. Luca explained the effects of environmental conditions on the swelling and shrinkage and ultimately growth of the fruit. He also demonstrated that the data can be instantaneously displayed on a mobile phone. One of the potential benefits of this research will be better timing and more efficient irrigation.

Luca demonstrated the digital callipers to measure fruit size. The callipers would be very useful for growers collecting fruit size data because they automatically log the data which can be transferred to a computer saving time compared to manual data entry.

We then moved through the rootstock experiment where the three blushed cultivars have been grafted to seven different rootstock combinations. The group was generally impressed by the fruit size and colour of ANP-0118 (marketed as Lanya®) although fruit set was a bit low, most likely due to cold conditions during flowering (lack of bee activity), polliniser flower timing and maybe lack of polliniser compatibility.

Getting to the Drip Vs Micro part of the walk was a great learning opportunity for all of us there I believe. Ian explained the water saving benefit and the increase in flower bud number and fruit set from drip.

An enjoyable and healthy discussion regarding the G.V soils, soil management and types, bank preparation and experience in this was opened by Peter Hall and continued by Alex Turnbull.

Through this some of the younger/ newer orchardists could gain knowledge from the experience and expertise and the trial and error facts that were being shared.

I would like to thank Dr Ian Goodwin and his team for opening his project to us and keeping us up to date with the progress they are making. It looks like it will be a positive outcome for water management within the Goulburn Valley.

Elizabeth Mace

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E Mace Article 170107




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