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The Passion Vine

The Passion Vine – September 2014

Post Office Box 321 Pomona QLD 4568

Executive Report By Jann Bonsall Last time I wrote that 3 months had flown by and nothing has changed! It seems that it was only last week I was writing this column encouraging you all to renew memberships and nominate for the PAI Executive. Surprisingly it appears that it must have been a great rally call because we ended up holding the first ever election for the Executive with 10 nominations for nine seats, and we have 71 paid members to date this year which is 15 more than the entire year last year! It is great to have such enthusiasm in the industry. Most importantly I must farewell Keith Paxton and of course, his lovely wife Judy. Keith has retired from the Executive and the IAC to concentrate on their farm and their ever growing family. Many kind words were delivered to thank Keith for his extraordinary contribution to the industry. Keith’s final President’s report is on page 4

Jill did a fantastic job of providing an excellent spread of yummies. Many thanks to the Gordons for being such gracious hosts. Information presented at the AGM and pictures of the field walk are on page 10 So we have a new Executive and warmly welcome Tim Johnson, Nick Hornery and Tom Carey who all hail from NSW. PAI’s new President is Ian Constable who requires very little introduction considering he was awarded a Life Membership at the last AGM! The new Executive contact details are on the next page. The IAC contact list looks a bit empty but will be rectified as soon as possible. The IAC met on the Friday prior to the AGM and ALPM and due to the resignation of Keith and Steve there will be two new Executives recommended to the HAL Board. Once those approvals have been made, you will be advised.

Steve Gray has also “retired” from the Executive and IAC and will be sorely missed for his ability to say it as it is in his irrepressible FNQ way!

Horticulture Australia has announced a new Marketing Manager for passionfruit, Elisa King. Elisa has been working on the winter campaign and came up to Caloundra to report to the IAC and the Annual Levy Payers’

The AGM and ALPM meetings went well and the Field Walk at the Gordon’s was very well attended. Jim did a great job of explaining how things worked at his place and

Newsletter of Passionfruit Australia Incorporated

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September 2014 Meeting. A report on the Marketing for the past twelve months is on page 8 The second instalment of the R&D historical reports starts on page 12. Peter Rigden has also provided us with a report on the proposed Blind Tipping project, which was basically concluded before it started. If that seems convoluted, read more on page 16 The on-going HAL Review will be revealed to industry during October and once all the information has been agreed to by all stakeholders, there will be an all industry announcement which I can assure you will be forwarded to you at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, I encourage all growers who pay a levy to consider becoming members of the new HAL. It is vital that all growers take the opportunity to have their say in the new HAL. Spring has started and there have been some fearsome storms, but overall the weather has been lovely. Let’s hope there is some gentle rain and lots of sunshine to bring on the best passionfruit for the spring and summer markets. There must have been something in the air at Sydney Markets in August. Debra Scarfe from Moraitis and Aiden Hutton from JE Tippers both “tied the knot”. Aiden hadn’t returned before we went to print so we’ll find something to celebrate in December’s edition.


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Passionfruit Australia Incorporated Executive Committee Ian Constable "Nunderry" 260 Boyds Lane Dulguigan via Murwillumbah NSW 2484 P: 02 6672 6826 M: 0428 181 246 F: 02 6672 6826 E: ianconstable11@bigpond.com

Tina McPherson 15 Zinks Road Bundaberg QLD 4670 P: 07 4159 3001 M: 0428 415 930 F: 07 4155 6744 E: tina@tinaberries.com.au

President Vine Committee

Member

Jim Gordon PO Box 119 Yandina QLD 4561 P: 07 5446 7536 M: 0403 185 961 F: 07 5446 7524 E: jill_88@msn.com

Peter Griffiths 408 Dahl's Road Calavos QLD 4670 T/F: 07 4159 7394 M: 0429 656 922 E: peteandsally4@bigpond.com

Member

Member

William Wise 131 Cranneys Rd North Tumbulgum NSW 2490 P: 02 66766099 M: 0435 113 243 E: libmcq@hotmail.com

Sean Russell (JE Tippers) PO Box 27, Brisbane Markets QLD 4006 P: 07 3379 1041 M: 0418 158 331 F: 07 3379 4817 E: sean@jetipper.com.au

Member

Member

Tom Carey “Wilgra” Terania Creek Road The Channon NSW 2484 P: 02 6688 6510 M: 0407 710 009 E: kylie.mcgregor1@bigpond.com

Nick Hornery N & N Hornery 73 Watsons Lane Newrybar NSW 2479 P: 02 6687 1405 F: 02 6687 1830 M: 0432 183 085 E: nickhornery@gmail.com

Member

Executive Officer (Secretary / Treasurer )

Tim Johnson 720 Clothiers Creek Rd Murwillumbah NSW 2484 P: 02 6677 7192 M: 0402 128 516 E: bnjohnson@qldnet.com.au

Jann Bonsall PO Box 321 Pomona QLD 4568 P: 07 5485 4402 E: admin@passionfruitaustralia.org.au


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Passionfruit Australia Incorporated Industry Advisory Committee

PH: 07 3374 0453 Mob: 0413 101 646 Email: diannefullelove@optusnet.com.au

Dianne Fullelove

Chairperson PO Box 913, Kenmore, QLD 4069

Jane Wightman

HAL Suite 2, Level 5, 87 Wickham Terrace Spring Hill, QLD 4000

Peter Rigden

QLD Government DAFF, Maroochy Research Station, PO Box 5083, SCMC, QLD 4560

Ian Constable

PAI Executive “Nunderry” 260 Boyds Lane, Dulguigan via Murwillumbah, NSW 2484

Tina McPherson

PAI Executive 15 Zinks Road, Bundaberg, QLD 4670

Sean Russell

Marketing PO Box 27, Brisbane Markets, QLD 4106

This newsletter has been jointly funded by PAI and HAL using the passionfruit levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.

Bank account details Passionfruit Australia Incorporated BSB: 124-101 Acc No.: 21655088 If direct debiting please ensure to quote your name or membership number

Mob: 0404 309 877 Email: jane.wightman@horticulture.com.au PH: 07 5453 5927 FAX: 07 5493 5901 Email: peter.rigden@daff.qld.gov.au PH/FAX: (02) 6672 6826 MOBILE: 0428 181 246 Email: ianconstable11@bigpond.com PH: (07) 4159 3001 FAX: (07) 4155 6744 MOBILE : 0428 415 930 Email: tina@tinaberries.com.au PH: (07) 3379 1041 FAX: (07) 3379 4817 Mob : 0418 158 331 Email: sean@jetipper.com.au

PAI FEES New Grower or Processor Membership fee : $187 incl GST, joining fee and lobby fees Grower or Processor Membership renewal : $143 incl GST and lobby fees. Other classes (Nurseryman, seller, agent or associate) : $187 incl GST and lobby fees. Memberships run with the Fiscal year from July 1st to June 30th each year irrespective of date joined. Membership lapses if not renewed within three months of end of the fiscal year. Plant Royalties are due on propagation or purchase of all PAI varieties - Fees are payable to PAI executive officer : $0.35 per plant for PAI members, otherwise $0.70 for all non-members.


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President’s Annual Report for 2014 By Keith Paxton Administration Meetings attended:- PAI held a meeting on 18th September at Eco Science. Cherie Gambley also discussed the new R&D project with us at that meeting. 6th November Jann and I attended a tropical fruit meeting with the Minister in Brisbane. The reason for the meeting was the HAL review. Jann and I also attended that HAL forum and AGM on 21st - 22nd November.

royalty scheme, sending out forms and receiving orders and payments.

On 14th January there was a PAI meeting in Brisbane and the next day a market visit to Rocklea Markets and then onto an IAC meeting at Eco Science Centre. 4th February Jann attended an ACIL Allen HAL review meeting in Bundaberg. 21st February Jann and I had a meeting with Roger Broadley and Peter Rigden to discuss the blind tipping issue. On 27th February Jann and I attended a HAL review meeting held at Brisbane markets.

The four Passion Vine issued this year have been on time, packed with updates and good information. Jann organises the information and Jenny Drew is our editor.

28th March PAI held a General Meeting at Murwillumbah. Unfortunately the weather was not very kind to us. April 2nd Jann attended a Plant Health Australia meeting in Brisbane. She also attended a HAL review release of report meeting in Sydney on May 9th. May 28th Jann and I attended a HAL forum – HAL review meeting in Melbourne. June 18th PAI executive meeting. Jann also is on line for most if not all of the Horticulture Task Force teleconferences which are held. I also attend fruit spotting bug project meetings. Jann has administered our plant

Publications Jann and Graeme Forsythe and his team have built us a more efficient and user friendly web site which is now up and running and well worth having a look at. Jann contacts Graeme with new reports to put up on the site, keeping it up to date.

Reviews As you can see by the amount of meetings Jann and I have attended in relation to the HAL review it is a time consuming process. This review was instigated by levy payers in two large industries. The Government has appointed consultants ACIL Allen to conduct the review of HAL and the Horticulture Levy System. The number one recommendation is for HAL to become a grower owned research and development corporation which will be referred to as New HAL. This recommendation has been put to the PIB members of HAL at a meeting in Cairns and was agreed to. The Government has agreed to allow HAL and PIBs to be involved in agreeing to implement the rest of the nine recommendations. This process is proposed to be conducted over the next 12 months. We hope the

changes proposed will be beneficial to our industries. There is no doubt there will be a major change to the funding arrangements for research and development as the Government wants more say in the way tax payers dollar for dollar is being spent. It is envisaged that this process will give individual growers more say in the spending of their levy dollars. Senator David Leyonhjelm has urged the Federal Government to review all R & D and marketing levies. He has indicated he will attempt to disallow regulations involving a levy increase in the mushroom and onions growing industries and also an increase on the levy for mangoes. This is a concern for all levy paying industries as these increases were voted on and approved by growers. Over the years our levies have enabled us to advance our growing practices and implement a marketing plan. PAI along with other horticulture industries have co-signed and presented letters to


The Passion Vine – September 2014 Ministers and Senators urging that Senator Leyonhjelm’s disallowance motion not be supported in the Senate. AVPMA review PAI was informed the possibility of pesticides being used by horticulture would have to be reregistered. Luckily common sense has prevailed. As reported in Growcom's Fruit and Vegetable News the new agricultural chemicals legislation has passed through the Senate. This means that the mandatory re-registration component for all chemicals has been dropped. Costs for registration and permits are still under review. Horticulture TaskForce has been working towards a “single Voice”. A new constitution is now awaiting uptake from all HAL members. Work behind the scenes consistently with parliamentarians – monthly lunches during sitting sessions being hosted by APAL, Nursery, Vegies, Citrus and the first one by a combined HAL member representation. Also working with Senators to keep the majority aware of the importance of levies and ALL agricultural bodies. The new HTF has still not developed a budget; funding arrangements appear to be dead locked. PAI's contribution would be $1000 per year, giving us one vote. The bigger industries cost is supposed to be $15,000 per year with those industries having 15 votes giving small industries a limited say. Projects Passionfruit Strategic Plan independent review was conducted between November 13 and January 14 with positive outcomes for PAI and the work conducted by the industry and the researchers

combined. In my view some of these outcomes do not reflect good practice. Mite issues have been a major problem within the industry. Concerns have been raised at executive level and at the IAC meetings. PAI in conjunction with Jodie Pedrana at HAL have now achieved permits for abermectin and fenbutatin oxide for the treatment of both the passionfruit mite and the 2 spotted mite. Growers having mite problems are urged to use these two applications and report the results to their executive members throughout the next season. With this information PAI will approach the chemical companies to move towards having passionfruit added to their labels. Peter Rigden has provided us with a life cycle of mites as a guideline to achieving control of outbreaks. Blind tipping was a major problem this year for both growers and nurserymen. Establishing vines in the field proved difficult as the vine would go blind and even allowing the next shoot to take over, and in a lot of cases the next tip would go blind as well. A much higher incidence of the problem than in previous years, a project was put forward and a desk top review was to take place. After the February 21st meeting at DAFFQ Maroochydore, Roger Broadley and Peter Rigden invited me to attend a meeting with Chris Menzel to review the desk top review. Chris informed us that he looked at approximately 700 varieties of passionfruit vines worldwide and there was no documentation of blind tipping. After discussion it was decided

Page 5 that a genetic and environmental problem existed. It seems as though we have bred the problem into Misty and Sweetheart. Roger Broadley indicated there would probably be no cost for the desk top review. Marketing The marketing committee have done an excellent job this year. Shanka from HAL left us during the year and David Chenu from HAL filled in until our new lady, Elisa King took over as HAL marketing service manager for passionfruit. Chair, Tina McPherson and Melissa Smith, Sean Russell and Joe Costa have worked hard this year to achieve the results they have. Supply of passionfruit in the last 12 months has been irregular but they have still been able to promote our passionfruit at all levels and keep our returns at a good level. Thanks for an excellent job. During the year we did see photos of Australian passionfruit in store in Hong Kong at $34 for three fruit. (Hong Kong $ are approx. 7 to A$1.) Also we saw a photo of NZ passionfruit in store for NZ$39 per kilo. Chemicals Most of the information on chemicals will be in the levy payers meeting. Per 14421 Glyphosate 31.10.12 – 30.10.18 Per 12450 Trichlorfon – extended to 31.5.16 Per 14552 Phos Acid – 1.11.14 – 30.6.19 Hy-Mal registered by Crop Care – on label Per 14663 fenbutatin (torque) for mites 1.7.14 – 30.6.18 Per 14665 abamectin – 13.7.14 – 30.8.17 (Continued on page 6)


The Passion Vine – September 2014 Also Sacoa have informed me that all being well passionfruit will be put on the Biopest label in December this year and will be registered for mite use as well.

and venues, attending meeting and teleconferences, and taking care of the general business of the Association. We all owe her a vote of thanks.

Finance Our PAI account is the best it has ever been with in excess of $150,000.00 in the account. The levy receipts for last year are up but unfortunately this year levy receipts are likely to be down due to the weather conditions.

Thanks to Jane from HAL, Dianne Fullelove, Cherie Gambley and Peter Rigden for their support throughout the year. Thanks also to the Executive and a big thank you to our editor, Jenny Drew.

Executive officer, Jann, has done an excellent job this year of managing the finances of the Association, organising meetings

For the first time in our Association's history we are having an election, something I have always wanted to see. I am pleased to see that the

Page 6 nominations include young growers who are keen to become involved. A bit disappointed to see the lack of interest from Queensland. Steve Gray and myself are not nominating this year. I have enjoyed my time on the executive; a highlight for me has been the people that I have met and worked with since becoming involved with the Association in 1995. Thanks to my wife Judy for the time an effort she has put in in supporting me for the time I have spent in the Executive of the Passionfruit Association.

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The Last Twenty Years of Passionfruit Research, Development and Extension Projects By Peter Rigden (Development Horticulturalist) and Dr Cherie Gambley (Senior Plant Pathologist), Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Queensland. During the January 2014 Industry Advisory Committee meeting it was suggested that more could be done to make growers aware of the contribution research, development and extension projects funded by levies have made to the industry.

Report Date

Project No.

This is the second article, in a series of three, which summarises the passionfruit research, development and extension projects conducted over the last 20 years, giving both their aims and outcomes.

This information is taken from the published project Final Reports. Full details of each project are available in these reports which can be obtained through Passionfruit Australia Incorporated.

Project Title “Improving the effectiveness of passionfruit information.”

Main Investi gators

May 2006

PF04004

Aims

Provide up to date and detailed information on producing passionfruit for both prospective and existing growers.

Outcomes

Four publications were published:  The “Is passionfruit growing for you?” webpage on the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries website.  The “Passionfruit problem solver field guide”. An updated second edition was published in June 2013.  The “Passionfruit growing guide”. An updated second edition was published in July 2011.  The "Passionfruit grading guide” poster.

September 2007

PF04001

Aims

The areas addressed in this project were:  review of breeding program conducted by Mr Peter Beal,  field evaluation of new rootstocks for disease resistance,  screening rootstocks and varieties for defence compounds and use of plant defence activators,  use of mild-strain cross protection to protect against passionfruit woodiness virus,  pathogenicity testing of individual viruses,  long term strategies to incorporate virus tolerance into hybrids and rootstocks,  mass screening of new hybrids and rootstocks for disease resistance,  investigate feasibility of using tissue culture to obtain virus-free hybrids.

Genetic improvement of passionfruit to achieve improved disease resistance

S. Newett

J. Anderson


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Developments in disease and cold resistant passionfruit. Substantial progress has been made in tackling passionfruit diseases, including the development of new rootstock material resistant to disease and tolerant of cold and viruses. The project also gained valuable knowledge about the workings of the passionfruit’s natural defence system against disease. This project developed new passionfruit genotypes with improved virus and cold tolerance, undertook investigations of virus diseases of passionfruit and gained greater understanding of the production of defence related compounds by passionfruit which allow the plants to protect themselves from disease. Traditional breeding methods incorporated cold and virus tolerance into rootstocks and scions. New crosses were tested under field conditions to determine their agronomic performance and resistance to other diseases. The seed lines developed will be used in future breeding programs. Passionfruit produce compounds in response to infection by a pathogen to restrict disease development and a method was developed to measure these biochemical defence related compounds. This technique will be used to better understand passionfruit’s defence responses to diseases and to develop better options for field control of these diseases. The following recommendations arose from the work carried out in this project: For industry and growers: 1. New varieties: Some of the varieties assessed in this project (‘Sweetheart’, ‘Jumbo Gem’ and ‘Pandora’) have been already released to industry, feedback from growers are that the varieties are growing well. If growers are thinking of planting new varieties they are advised to test a small number of vines on their farm before committing to large scale planting. Grafted ‘Pandora’ vines are performing poorly during winter in northern NSW and south-east Queensland. Outcomes

2. Control of severe vine decline caused by an interaction of Fusarium solani and Phytophthora nicotianae: The aim is to control Phytophthora not Fusarium (which only invades diseased or damaged vines):  Graft high (at least 30cm). ‘DPI’ and ‘Heuston’ rootstocks are resistant to Phytophthora, so high grafting to prevent soil splash onto the scion will discourage the disease.  Use phosphonate fungicides. These slow the growth of Phytophthora and activate natural defence mechanisms in the host. There is an APVMA permit for the use of phosphonate to control Phytophthora of passionfruit.  Use cultural control practices to prevent splash dispersal of infested soil. Some suggestions are; plant sweet smother grass under vines, use collars/guard around base of vine, mulching. Improve plantation drainage. Note that heavy applications of lime will increase Phytophthora activity. For future research: 1. Rootstock and scion breeding  Peter Beal has recommended that a test cross of 50 plants of ‘Misty Gem’ x ‘Selection 1’ is planted in the field for assessment of field performance of vines and to determine if the cross is useful for introducing cold and virus tolerance in future scion breeding programs.  The cutting propagation method developed in this project should be used to propagate the ‘Heuston’ x P. incarnata cross and determine if ‘Heuston’ x P. incarnata could be used as a clonally propagated rootstock.  Seedlings of the seed produced from the (‘Heuston’ x P. incarnata) x ‘DPI’ cross should be planted out to examine if they maintain the cold and virus tolerance of the ‘Heuston’ x P. incarnata cross and also have the ability to set seed.


The Passion Vine – September 2014

Outcomes

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2. Virus research  Mild strain cross protection appears to be ineffective, and unlikely to assist in virus control in the short term, using the virus isolates currently available.  Passionfruit badnavirus sequences appear to be integrated into the passionfruit genome, but the incidence appears to be extremely low and there is no evidence that the virus is being activated in the current breeding program. This virus should be considered a low priority at present.  Progeny of the breeding program should be protected from field infection by viruses where possible and clonal material of promising lines maintained in virus-free glasshouse conditions. Reinfection rates are very high under natural cropping conditions, and levels of 100% have been recorded within 6 months of planting out of virus-free material.  The individual effect of the different viruses infecting passionfruit still needs to be determined, as this will likely have a significant effect on the direction of any future cross-protection control strategies.  It would be useful to study the genetics of resistance to viruses in P. incarnata, as this species could provide a source of resistance in future breeding work. P. incarnata has remained virus-free at the field trial site throughout this project, despite high inoculum pressures. F1 hybrids of crosses with P. edulis f sp flavicarpa have also remained symptomless. Defence activator work and analysis of defence related compounds

The techniques developed in this project can be used to better examine effect of putative defence activators for passionfruit. Fruit fly host status testing of a new passionfruit cultivar for interstate market access.

November 2008

PF07000

Aims

To determine the new cultivars, Pandora, Black Gem and McGuffies Red, can be classified as conditional non-hosts for the Queensland fruit fly, which is one of the major quarantine pests in Australia and internationally.

Outcomes

Assessment of blemished fruit of theses cultivars showed that passionfruit is generally a poor host for Queensland fruit fly. However, the laboratory host status test carried out revealed that the fruit fly was able to use the un-punctured fruit of the three cultivars as hosts to complete immature development and produce viable adults. Results of both field survey and laboratory tests have further indicated that blemishes and/or breaks in the fruit skin increase the risk of oviposition by the female fruit flies. Therefore, it was not possible to support conditional nonhost status for these new passionfruit cultivars.

May 2009

PF06003

Aims

To evaluate a range of alternative productions systems including trellis structures, mineral fertilisers, ground covers, insect controls and irrigation in a low cost demonstration project at the industry trial site at Duranbah, NSW.

New Production Systems for Passionfruit.

E. Hamacek

D. L. Peasley

Two overhead trellis systems, the “A‟ frame and the pergola are showing potential to increase productivity and fruit quality, reduce sunburn damage to fruit, and lower harvesting costs which are a major constraint in the passionfruit industry. Outcomes

Natural minerals and biological soil activators are also showing promise in improving soil health and reducing production costs, and a shade tolerant prostrate grass is minimising erosion in the inter-row area where conventional grasses do not persist because of excessive shading.


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Routine cover sprays for Queensland Fruit Fly have been replaced by the use of spot bait sprays, and attractants for male and female flies. A low cost, water efficient alternative irrigation system – T-tape has not proven its durability against animal attack.

October 2009

MT06055

Aims

Improved management of fruit diseases is a high priority for the mango, avocado, passionfruit and lychee industries, which are collectively valued at over $265M in Australia. The postharvest diseases anthracnose and stem-end rot continue to be a major issue for each of these crops, affecting in the order of one in four fruit in the marketplace. Field diseases such as pepper spot (lychee, avocado) and Septoria spot (passionfruit) also cause serious losses before fruit leave the farm gate.

Evaluation of pyraclostrobin products for disease control in mango, avocado, passionfruit and lychee.

Dr L. Coates

This project tested a range of new products containing the strobilurin fungicide pyraclostrobin for the control of fruit diseases in mango, avocado, passionfruit and lychee. Cabrio®, which contains pyraclostrobin, performed well overall for the control of anthracnose in avocado, postharvest side lesions in lychee (predominantly anthracnose) and Septoria spot in passionfruit. On the basis of these results, it is recommended that registration of Cabrio® for disease control in avocado, passionfruit and lychee be pursued.

Outcomes

In addition to providing efficacy data to support product registration, this project has evaluated a number of variables in the application of these fungicides such as product rates, frequency of product application, use of adjuvants, and low vs. high volume spray applications. These results are detailed in the report. Future activities should include:  Supporting the process of registration of Cabrio® for fruit disease control in avocado, passionfruit and lychee through provision of data.  Facilitating correct use of newly registered products by informing users of resistance management strategies.  Optimisation of product application

For information regarding administration issues for Passionfruit Australia Incorporated please contact: Jann Bonsall, PO Box 321 Pomona QLD 4568

Ph: 07 5485 4402 Email: admin@ passionfruitaustralia.org.au For variety and plantings issues please contact your local Executive Member as listed on page 2. Other enquiries can be made through Queensland DAFF on their call centre number 132523 All contributions concerning the industry are most welcome.

The Passion Vine is edited by Jann Bonsall and Jenny Drew The advice and opinions in the articles published in The Passion Vine are essentially those of contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Passionfruit Australia Incorporated or the Editor. The advice given is at the readers own risk, and no responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of the material presented. Inclusion of an advertisement in this publication does not necessarily imply endorsement of the product, company or service by Passionfruit Australia Incorporated or the Editor.


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Blind Tips By Peter Rigden (Development Horticulturalist), Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Queensland.

During the January 2014 Industry Advisory Committee meeting the high incidence of blind tips on Misty Gem and Sweetheart vines over the previous 6 months (both in the nursery and in the field) was raised as a significant industry problem. Discussion at the meeting centred on whether or not this problem should be included in future research project work and it was agreed that PAI representatives should hold further discussions with DAFF

Queensland staff to decide the best course of action on this issue. Two meetings were subsequently held at the Maroochy Research Facility. The first in February 2014 was to brief DAFF staff on the problem and explore how DAFF could assist industry and the second in March 2014 was to discuss the findings of some preliminary investigations that had been undertaken by DAFF.

Photos : Above : A typical blind tip (left) compared to a normal tip (right).

Participants in the meetings were: 

PAI: Keith Paxton (President) and Jann Bonsall (Executive Officer).

DAFFQ: Roger Broadley (Science Leader, Subtropical Fruit and Improved Genetics), Dr Chris Menzel (Principal Horticulturalist) and Peter Rigden (Development Horticulturalist).


The Passion Vine – September 2014 A summary of the outcomes of the two meetings follows: 

Samples of blind tips were obtained and examined under a microscope for signs of pest and disease. No symptoms of disease such as lesions or infected tissue were seen and there was no evidence of pest infestation or damage. Special attention was given to checking for the presence of broadmites, these mites are not visible to the naked eye and their feeding activity in many crops damages growing points causing severe distortion in the growth of new shoots and leaves.

Dr Chris Menzel, a DAFF plant physiologist, with past experience in passionfruit research, conducted a literature search. His search covered over 700 research papers from both Australian and international publications, including a lot from Brazil. These were checked to see if any research work has been carried out that may provide an understanding of the problem. Unfortunately nothing relating to blind tips was found.

The considered opinion of DAFF staff is that blind tips are most likely to be a result of a genetic and environmental interaction and are not due to agronomic practices such as water, nutrition, pest and disease or virus issues.

There is no obvious “magic bullet” solution to the problem and because of the complexity and interaction of the suspected causes a research project is unlikely to produce useful results.

Monitoring for and rejection of any crosses with a tendency to produce blind tips in future breeding work is recommended.

There are some observational indications that blind tips occur mainly after a cold spell or significant temperature changes. Nursery and grower’s records on temperatures and blind tip occurrence may help to verify this. If a link to cold temperatures is established then nurseries may be able to avoid taking scion material after cold weather events. However, the practicalities of this would depend on order schedules for the supply of plants and the timing of growth flushes, which also limit when the collection of scion material can be done.

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MEA Soil Moisture Monitoring Why monitor your soil moisture? Knowing what your soil moisture levels are helps you schedule your irrigation events. Passion vines are reliant on receiving regular amounts of water, but not too much of it! Getting it wrong and under watering the vines at their critical growth stages will reduce the yield and the quality of the passionfruit! Why? Because water stressed vines:  Cease vine extension  Reduce flower bud initiation  Drop flowers and fruit  Yield smaller fruit with less pulp So, clearly watering is critical but beware you can’t simply pile the water on! Too much water also reduces fruit quality, reduces vigour and significantly increases the risk of base and root rot! Applying the right amount of water at the right time will reward you with happier, healthier plants with high yields of great quality fruit. How to measure soil moisture There are two ways to measure soil moisture: 1. Soil Moisture Tension, and 2. Soil Moisture Content Soil moisture tension Soil moisture tension tells you how easy it is for a plant root to extract water from soil. When soil is saturated, there is plenty of water in the pore spaces and plenty of water coating the soil particles. All this moisture makes it very easy for plant roots to get water and the soil moisture tension is low. Imagine sucking on an ice slushy - when you first start slurping, it's easy to get a drink.

The more you drink the harder it is to get liquid from the ice and the harder you have to suck - it's the same for the plant root, as water in the pores decreases, the suction or tension that the roots need to apply to get moisture increases. When soil tension reaches a certain threshold, the plant can no longer extract water from the soil even if there is water present, it is stuck to the soil particles and they won't let it go. This water is unavailable to the roots. At this point the plant will become stressed, its physiology changes and the crop is adversely impacted. The plant will eventually die if water is not replenished. Soil moisture content Soil moisture content tells you how much water is in the soil usually as a percentage representing what percentage of total 'volume' of soil is moisture. Imagine a cubic metre of topsoil. Pull out all the soil particles and compact them to remove all gaps between them (suppose it squashes down to about 40% of the original volume). Do the same for the organic matter - this would occupy about 5% of the volume. What is left? The rest of the volume is made up of pore spaces which can be occupied by either air or water. So, in a totally saturated sample of this soil, the water component would be 55% of the original cubic meter - the rest is the soil. Given that the soil holds onto a layer of water that is inaccessible to plants, the value of "dry" soil

when roots cannot get any more moisture and plants become stressed, wilt and die will not be 0%, but a slightly higher value depending on the soil type. Clay soils hold onto water more tightly than sand. What tools can you use to measure soil moisture tension and soil moisture content? MEA makes a number of different soil moisture monitoring tools, including the GDot and Plexus. GDot The GDot displays soil moisture tension and is suitable for use in most horticultural crops including passion vines. It is a low cost, low maintenance device that at a glance helps you to decide whether it’s time to turn the water on or not. For more information on the GDot visit www.gdot.com.au Plexus Plexus is a radio-linked network of soil moisture sensors which monitors your vine’s soil moisture in real time and sends the data to your smart phone for viewing whenever and wherever you like. Plexus consists of any number of Field Stations to which soil moisture sensors are attached. Each Field Station in the network reads the attached sensors and sends the data back to a central Hub which in turn pushes the data to the website. Data can hop from one Field Station to the next on its way to the Hub. Because Field Stations can be located up to 1km apart, the potential coverage is significant. The entire system is powered by solar panels and is maintenance free for at least five years.


The Passion Vine – September 2014 The Hub pushes data continually to www.greenbrain.net.au where you can login and view it.

PAI Licensed Nurseries

You can explore Green Brain by visiting www.greenbrain.net.au and use the following login: Email: demo@mea.com.au Password: demo If you have any questions, or would like more information on MEA’s range of soil moisture monitoring products, please contact: Justin Clarke MEA Queensland M: 0499 880 012 E: justin@mea.com.au W: www.mea.com.au

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Above : MEA soil moisture information in the palm of your hand

Above : Green Brain software in action

Birdwood Nursery 71 Blackall Range Road Nambour QLD 4560 P: 07 5442 1611 J & V McLeod Campbell’s Road Dungay NSW 2484 P: 02 6672 3503 Widebay Passionvine Nursery 408 Dahls Road Calavos via Bundaberg Q 4670 P: 07 4159 7394

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The Passion Vine – September 2014

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The Passion Vine September 2014  
The Passion Vine September 2014  
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