Vine magazine May 2020

Page 1

contribution to horticulture

B l IN B ock U SINE



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Contents 4

Cover story Keith’s contribution to horticulture

28 Biosecurity Fruit fly mass trapping project


News Life in the age of coronavirus

29 Biosecurity Plant Health Australia


News Getting down to business

30 Processing & marketing APDF

10 ATGA chair & CEO news

31 Processing & marketing Sunbeam Foods

11 DFA chair & CEO news

32 Processing & marketing MRO

12 Table grape news

33 Marketing Marketing adapts amid COVID-19

14 Dried grape news

34 History Sunraysia’s confusing sultana history

16 Prune news APIA promotion activities

36 Technology Smart phone farming

18 News Young farmer’s bright future

38 Profile Luke Lory

20 Insights Consumer behaviour at a glance

39 Community Industry events

21 Insights Dried grape trade report

39 Board members

22 News Life among the vines 24 Best practice A time to reflect 26 Biosecurity Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area 27 Biosecurity National Fruit Fly Council The Vine is a joint publication of the Australian table grape and dried fruits industries. For editorial and advertising enquiries contact: Dried Fruits Australia T: (03) 5023 5174 E: W: Australian Table Grape Association T: (03) 5021 5718 E: W: Editorial committee: Anne Mansell, Lauren Roden (DFA), Jeff Scott, Terryn Milner (ATGA) Design: Kylie Norton Design Printing: Sunnyland Press Cover photo: Keith Leamon, icon of the Australian table grape industry. Picture: supplied by family. © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2020 This publication has been funded by Hort Innovation using the table grape and dried grape levies and funds from the Australian Government. Wherever you see a Hort Innovation logo, the initiative is part of the Table Grape, Dried Grape, Dried Tree Fruit or Prune Fund. Some projects also involve funding from additional sources.

For further publication details, see page 39.

Table Grapes

Dried Grapes

Combined Industries

Dried Prunes

Seasons change Autumn gives way to winter; soon the leaves will fall before the vines rest in preparation for a new season. While the vines may rest, though, industry doesn’t. The last few months have proved the role of agriculture in Australia is essential. A farmer’s job is never done. While many Australians stayed home during coronavirus to slow the spread, our growers and supply chains worked to provide Australians and consumers globally with clean and safe product. For this, we thank you! We are grateful for your efforts. Challenges remain, but we will get through them. – from the team


Infancy to thriving industry KE I T H’S C ON T RI B U TI O N TO TA B L E G R A P ES

Problem-solver, voice of reason, walking encyclopaedia. That’s how those who know Keith Leamon – an icon of the Australian table grape industry – would describe him.

was assigned to work with dried grape

The export potential of table grapes

producers to “diagnose problems

increased and, during that time, Keith

and improve productivity” under the

worked with visiting scientist Professor

supervision of Albert Heslop, his KL

Klayton Nelson, from California, who

story told.

was an expert in postharvest handling

Working directly with growers, Keith was

and storage of table grapes.

required to host grower meetings and

Soon Keith became an authority on

Fresh out of Longerenong Agricultural

would “always avail himself”, Robinvale

table grapes, respected at local,

College, it was 1966 when Keith waltzed

grower Nick Muraca said.

state and national level and even

into the Victorian Department of Agriculture’s Mildura office and, after a 15-minute interview, secured a job as a horticultural extension officer in Robinvale. He was only there for a short stint, but the role signalled the beginning of a 45-year career in the Department of Agriculture/Department of Primary Industries (the department), which would see him take on a variety of roles

“Keith was the sort of person who could always draw a crowd,” Nick said. “The reason he could do that was because he could speak at all levels – he could really engage growers. “He had the ability to speak at a scientific level, but he also had the ability to speak to growers at a grower level – and then stay behind and explain it even further.”

and reach the “dizzying heights” – as

Keith transferred to the Mildura

he recounted them – of key project

office as an extension officer, before

manager and centre manager of the

specialising in viticulture extension and

department’s Irymple office.

research in the mid-1970s.

Despite his unassuming nature, though,

Paralleling his professional successes at

Keith’s efforts did not go unseen.

the time, he married Desley, who he also

Recently, stalwarts of Sunraysia’s table grape industry banded together

met at the department, and they had two children, Tammie and Patrick.

to narrate the achievements of the

According to former table grape and

man who they labelled a “visionary”; a

citrus grower, and friend, Terry Blenheim,

“true gentleman” who was instrumental

Keith had “the big picture before anyone

in the development and expansion of

else did”.

Australia’s table grape exports, among many other significant contributions to agriculture.

“He was a visionary for the industry,” said Terry, who met Keith at a Young Farmers meeting in the 1970s. “He was able to

internationally. He was a major voice for the industry, reporting in department magazine Table Grape News, research papers and other news and research publications. He could be coordinating major seminars, or researching technical or industry issues in the office by day, and then clock off for a walk through the vineyard, providing a listening ear to a grower and some helpful advice. “I personally learnt a hell of a lot from him,” Nick said. “I think the table grape industry is indebted to him and we’re all better off for his contribution. “Sure there are a lot of other scientists who can claim a lot of other things, but growers didn’t meet those scientists or have anything to do with those guys. “But growers did with Keith – so he’s the guy I say those words to.” He supported growers in forming grower associations in Robinvale, Swan Hill, Mildura and South Australia, and participated in a countrywide roadshow to generate interest in forming a

While Keith cannot provide a current

teach a lot of people a lot of skills. Keith

recollection of his career – he, sadly,

knew the shortcomings of the industry

suffers from Parkinson’s disease, as well

we had when we were transitioning from

as Lewy Body dementia – KL story, an

dried fruits – and knew it couldn’t be

As the industry boom continued, Keith

autobiographical piece on his working

done in a couple of minutes.”

conceived the first Table Grape Industry

life written at retirement, as well as his seven-page curriculum vitae, and fond recollections of that time from his wife, colleagues and growers, provide an insight into Keith’s character. Back in Robinvale in July 1966, Keith


By the early 1980s, as growers began to transition across to table grapes, Keith

national levy system that would lead to the Australian Table Grape Association.

Technical Conference, which was held in Mildura on 9 October 1984.

became section leader viticulture at the

Keith and direct report Sue McConnell

department, where he nurtured dried

conducted significant research into

grape or wine grape growers through the

postharvest storage and export

transitioning process to table grapes.

conditions for quality control purposes.

“He had the ability to speak at a scientific level, but he also had the ability to speak to growers at a grower level.” – Nick Muraca

“He was a visionary for the industry.” – Terry Blenheim

“When the table grape industry first kicked off one of the things that Keith was really keen on doing was introducing some of this quality stuff.” – John Hiskins VINE MAGAZINE 5


Together they examined outturn issues,

Approved Quality Assurance, but what

Keith, do you know anything about

even sending one of the first large

(the growers) had to do was keep a lot of

such and such?’ and he’d always have

commercial shipments to Europe with

records,” John said.

an answer.”

“As part of that program they had to

“It would be, like, ‘Have a look at that

hand-made thermocouple wires, which had to be taken out at the other end.

have auditors that went around to the

third cabinet filing drawer and you’d

Arguably, Keith’s most significant

packing sheds and audited what the

probably find something.’”

work in table grapes – excluding his

growers had been recording. So the

instrumental role in the industry’s

auditors had to be trained.”

establishment – was developing a quality assurance system, which the department rolled out across Victoria. Keith’s, and Sue’s, technical knowledge was complemented by former teacherturned-department employee John Hiskins, who wrote training packages, presenting scientific information in a way that growers could understand.

paddleboats and steam engines –

one of the first to implement the quality

Desley said Keith would turn his hand

assurance system into his packing shed.

to almost anything, and excel.

“I was the farm manager and then

“The table grape growers know him

became general manager of a property

best for table grapes but he was

called Boyanda,” Allan Anderson said.

involved with lots of things,” Desley

“Keith along with John Hiskins and Sue

said. “He didn’t forget anything, he just

McConnell helped us implement a QA

seemed to accumulate it all.”

program and that was the precursor to what we now know as AOs

kicked off, one of the things that Keith

(authorised officers).

some of this quality stuff,” John said. “There were lots of people jumping on board and trying to use shortcuts and you can’t do that in table grapes.”

water skiing, to model aeroplanes,

Robinvale grower Allan Anderson was

“When the table grape industry first was really keen on doing was introducing

With diverse interests – from

Keith’s career, from extension officer to institute director of the Irymple office, came at a time – he wrote in

“We were still using that when I left the

KL story – of “decreasing emphasis

farm in 2003. That was implemented in

on just those bits of ‘paper’ and an

the late ’80s and just built on.”

increasing emphasis on project-based

As key project manager, Keith developed

performance and productivity”.

quality assurance programs for not

“I gained much satisfaction in the early

Alongside the quality assurance system

only table grapes but all of horticulture

years of my career from personally

(QA/AQA), Keith and John trained

across Victoria, as well as the Australian

achieving successful and meaningful

with the Australian Quarantine and

honey industry and dairy herd

project outcomes and in the latter

Inspection Service so they could train


years from facilitating others in doing

auditors in the newly developed QA/AQA system. “We had a group called the Quality Assurance group and when we introduced this quality stuff the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service introduced this thing called

He was, during his career, a “walking encyclopaedia”. “I used to check him out and pick some

the same thing,” he wrote. “If I had my time over again I doubt that I would do anything differently.” v

really obscure things to ask him,” Sue said. “I’d walk into his office and say ‘Hey This page: Left: Keith with wife Desley on his retirement. Middle: Keith during his time at the department. Previous page: Top left: Keith at a market in Europe. Top right: Keith early in his career. Middle: Keith at the Victorian Horticultural Export Council. Bottom: Keith (second from right), with growers Allan Anderson and Steve Pannuccio, Alan Nichols (AQIS), and department colleague John Hiskins on the introduction of the quality assurance system. Clipping: Sunraysia Daily.



Life in the age of coronavirus All day and night, on televisions, devices, in print and through the airwaves, Australians have been reminded of life in the age of coronavirus. Cities have been in lockdown, health

service, allowing – provided hygiene and physical distancing measures were adhered to as reasonably practicable – business as usual for Australia’s farmers.

permits, export, research and travel. The Federal Government has a number of programs and initiatives to support businesses impacted by the coronavirus,

In April, ABARES Insights declared

including a JobKeeper program for

Australia did not have a food security

employers and employees, cash flow

problem, reporting that 70 per cent of

boosts for businesses, assistance to

agricultural production is exported.

help with apprentices/trainees, loan deferrals, increased instant asset

providers under pressure, and

Australia’s farmers have been

supermarkets experiencing shortages.

impacted in a variety of ways, and an

Businesses have closed and stood down

overwhelming volume of resources

staff and those still operating bear

on support is out there. For those still

crosses on floors, barriers to prevent

requiring information and support, the

physical closeness, and other signs

Vine editorial team cherry-picked a few

Safe Work Australia provides workplace

which alert to the current state of

key sources.

guides and assistance for employers,

the nation.

FarmHub, maintained by the National

employees, fact sheets, action plans for

But there’s a rhythm in regional Australia

Farmers’ Federation, houses a bank of

write-off, temporary relief for financially distressed businesses and more, all detailed on the government’s business page.

COVID-19 affected businesses,

information for growers, and supply

and much more.

forklifts dancing around packing and

chain members, affected by COVID-19.

Hort Innovation have a dedicated

processing sheds, and transport carrying

Information on border closures,

COVID-19 page with horticulture-

containers – as agriculture workers

support for farmers for businesses,

specific support.

and supply chains continue operations

mental health and workplace guides are

to provide Australians and consumers

Dried Fruits Australia and the Australian


Table Grape Association have a number

The Federal Government’s Department

of resources available through their

– of tractors sidling through vine rows,

around the globe with clean and safe product.

Health website provides current

websites and enewsletters and urge anyone requiring further support or

As states and territories introduced

information on hygiene practices,

movement restrictions and lockdowns

outbreaks, symptoms to watch for, while

information to contact their relevant

in March the Federal Government

the Department of Agriculture contains

industry body. v

recognised agriculture as an essential

material and data on industry support,

Your grapes deserve the best Using Fresh Science to enhance fresh produce.



Getting down to business

Nathan Jilbert is always thinking about how he can do things “better, quicker, cheaper” on the block.

manage because it’s a small patch.

split when it rains.”

“I love the industry. My grandfather

Nathan started with a vertical

was a dried fruit grower, so it’s in my

trellis system, with a plan to retrofit

blood. But for me it’s not a lifestyle –

swingarms later if needed with

although hopefully one day it will be.

cashflow from his first crop.

“For the time being, I need to have a

“Our first crop in 2018 yielded just

business mindset and maximise all of

over 10 tonnes, but summer pruning

my resources.”

and crown picking was a slow and

Vine Nursery, and is involved with

Nathan put in the research time to

expensive process, mainly because we

other local businesses.

find the right variety, needing it to

Bringing business strategy into the vineyard comes naturally to Nathan, who also works full time as a human resources manager, runs Sunraysia

Nathan began developing his own dried

fit the criteria of “consistent yields,

weren’t able to penetrate the canopy easily to see what needed to be cut or

bulletproof, easy to grow”.

picked,” he said.

1.5 hectares of Sunglo vines at his

“I had recently been licensed to grow

In an attempt to mechanise and reduce

property in Cardross, Victoria.

Sunglo in my nursery, so I knew all

grape vineyard in 2016, planting about

He had his business hat on right from the word go. “It had to be dried fruit because I’m time poor – I can’t be out in the vineyard all the time,” Nathan said. “It also needs to be easy for me to


about the variety itself – although it was still fairly new and not many

labour requirements and costs, Nathan installed some secondhand trellis heads. They set up his crop well

people had it,” he said.

for 2019.

“But the research told me it was a

However, Nathan’s young vines had

consistent and heavy bearer,

been working hard and he could see

produces very high quality fruit, usually

they were a bit “clapped out”. So he

dries a lighter colour, and doesn’t

got some advice to start a fertiliser


program – and it made all the

of the 2019 growing season, with the

better because you’re not going


advice that he wouldn’t see the results

through and cutting once and then

in his yield for the first year.

waiting three or four days to check

“Sometimes you have to spend money to make money,” Nathan said. “If you want the yield and the results, you’ve got to use the right inputs. “Without fertilisers in the ground, I wouldn’t have the cane development that I’ve got. I was only rolling down about six canes per cordon, but after a year of fertilising I was rolling down up

“You will see the vines look healthier – they’ll be more vigorous in that first growing season,” he said. “But what you do this year in terms of nutrition, will show up in your yield the next year – and that’s always the case. If you miss doing it for a year, you won’t see any difference at first in your yield,

to 14 canes – and the yields picked up

but it will drop off the year after.

by the same kind of percentage.”

While Nathan’s yield did increase for

Nathan admits he was skeptical at

his second crop – from 10.16 to 11.42

first, but he came around quickly once

tonnes – the improvement was also

he started working with Nu-edge

partly due to his new trellis system.

Solutions and reading up on their

Despite removing four rows prior to

products and how they’re made.

his vine nursery, Nathan’s yield picked

agronomist, so I appreciate the free

up slightly this year – coming in at

advice from experts,” he said.

around 11.5 tonnes.

“They do up a program that works for

He also moved to full mechanical

you. I explained that I’m time poor and

cutting this season.

it had to be simple and easy.

This page and opposite: Nathan Jilbert at his dried grape vineyard in Cardross, Victoria.

bought second hand so I can do my own cutting on swingarms and don’t have

need to do during each development

to employ any labour, which brings the

stage – and there’s only five or six

cost and the time down,” Nathan said.

Nathan began fertilising at the start

“I love the industry. My grandfather was a dried fruit grower, so it’s in my blood. But for me it’s not a lifestyle – although hopefully one day it will be. ”

“I have a tractor with a cutter bar I

“The program outlines exactly what you

injections for the year.”

everything.” v

the 2020 season to free up room for

“I’m not a scientist, I’m not an

didn’t know much about fertigation, so

everything you’ve done – it gets

“You don’t miss anything when you’re cutting, so the overall quality is even



Promising season derailed by trade challenges A note from our chair What a difficult year it has been!

the virus to take up the funding

The industry was fortunate that

Stay safe, everyone.

Queensland and Western Australia had finished their harvest, and that the planning and logistics of labour for the Sunraysia region were in place prior to state lockdowns. The virus, though, has caused a number of issues. Residents of Asian countries are staying home and not venturing out to buy fruit. The consequence of this is slow sales in countries like China, and the money on offer has been well down on last year. Hopefully it will improve in the coming months. The ATGA, through its fortnightly enewsletter Pick of the Bunch, has been keeping everyone up to date with the requirements and rules around operating during the coronavirus pandemic. We have been fortunate that trade has been deemed an essential service so that we can operate as normal – so long as we observe social distancing rules. There is government support for employers and employees in the form of JobKeeper funding and I urge anyone who has suffered any commercial downturn as a result of

initiatives of the federal and state governments.

News from our CEO

From all accounts it has been a very difficult year so far with regards to exports. From a season that started off looking very promising, the advent of a number of events has certainly had a major impact on the industry’s export capability. The coronavirus effect in all countries has influenced consumer buying behaviour. The impact of mandatory isolation in Asian countries has slowed sales down, decreased grower returns and led to a build-up of fruit being stored in most countries. China has also granted market access to a number of new commodities from different countries which has only exacerbated the problem. Let’s hope, as the isolation rules are freed in our exporting countries, consumers return to their daily activities and increase the flow of fruit sales. As most people are aware, it has been a frustrating time with Indonesian

John Argiro | Chair


importers gaining their export license for Australian grapes. Ministers Littleproud and Birmingham have prioritised this issue and tried to resolve the holdup in Indonesia. Unfortunately, only a few licenses have been granted to a small number of exporters, thus putting a brake on a great amount of exports to Indonesia. This has been diabolical for our industry, as Indonesia has traditionally been our second biggest export destination taking most of the Red Globe crop. With very few options for alternative markets for Red Globe it is a disastrous situation for growers of Red Globe. There is some good news, however, with regard to Japan market access. At the recent bi-lateral meeting between Australia and Japan, Japan has agreed to consider additional varietal access for mangoes. If this is approved by Japan – hopefully by November 2020 – it will open the pathway for the Australian government to commence discussions on additional varietal access for table grapes and citrus. Taiwan, however, cancelled their cold treatment verification trials of fruit fly planned for March this year until a date to be determined, hopefully next year. v

Jeff Scott | CEO


Supporting our industry A note from our chair What a year it’s been so far, with heat, wind and rain all taking a toll on our crops. Then, of course, there’s the coronavirus, which gives us all more to think about. At the time of writing, we’re about 75 per cent of the way through harvest, and the fruit we’ve already sent in from my property has weighed exceptionally well – a contrast to last year. There was a small crop on some old sultana vines that ripened early this season, so we decided to dry them as naturals. This saved us some dollars on oil and potassium, as well as labour costs for spraying, and we were able to cut them in the first week of February. With water prices high, I believe it’s of the utmost importance to cut costs wherever possible. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to do what we normally would. Those sultana vines will get a rough pruning this year and be cut off next harvest. The patch will be replaced with a variety like Selma Pete, which comes in early and is high yielding and rain tolerant. We also have Sunmuscat and Sunglo, which are reliable bearers but mature late in the season, so Selma Pete will spread out our harvest and minimise our risk.

Mark King | Chair

To ensure our voice is heard at this time, DFA has been having frequent phone and video meetings with industry and government. These provide opportunities to comment on the issues most important to us, including the coronavirus, MurrayDarling Basin Plan, biosecurity and labour. While we may be past harvest requirements, DFA is trying to make sure labour will be available for pruning. The DFA board and staff wish you and your family all the best. We know you will get through this changing and challenging time.

News from our CEO 2020. A very challenging year thus far – to say the least. For growers and processors, the issues have been confronting: weather, with both heat and rain affecting crop production, and of course COVID-19 and the rapid impact it’s had across all communities and businesses. DFA is committed to providing relevant and up-to-date information to assist our industry with workplace changes and impacts on horticulture as a result of COVID-19. This information is distributed regularly through Currant News, social media, the DFA website, and as part of this

magazine. All staff are now working remotely, with new systems in place to ensure we can quickly and efficiently respond to the latest updates and continue to advocate strongly on behalf of dried grape producers and processors. Involvement in the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Horticulture Council ensures DFA has a direct link to the federal government, particularly the agriculture minister and key staff from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. DFA participates in a weekly forum with the department to ensure issues our industry is experiencing through the course of this pandemic are responded to. Other work continues in a somewhat altered format. While we may be working remotely, we are still available to take calls, answer emails, and provide support to our members. All staff interact daily and we continue to work closely with funding partners, such as Hort Innovation, to ensure the delivery of key objectives, including the industry development and communications programs. While, at the time of writing, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the longer-term health and economic impacts of COVID-19, DFA will continue to work hard to advocate for and support our industry. v

Anne Mansell | CEO



Consumer acceptability at five-year high The Australian table grape industry recorded its highest rate of consumer acceptability in five years for 2019–20.

with the results to date,” Delytics

April, with the average of 79 per cent

managing director Mark Loeffen said.

more than 10 per cent higher than the

Efforts to improve quality and consumer acceptability paid off for

chain, from growers to consumers.”

the industry, with retail monitoring recording an overall result of 79 per cent, just shy of the industry’s 80 per cent benchmark. The result comes at the completion of Table grape supply chain quality 2017–2020, a three-year project to increase demand and consumption of Australian table grapes, funded by Hort Innovation using the table grape research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government. Project lead Delytics Ltd used its

“By working together towards a

previous season.

common goal, the Australian table

ATGA CEO Jeff Scott said the

grape industry has laid a solid

ATGA was really excited about

foundation through this project that

announcing the industry maturity

will add value through the whole supply

standard last October. “It has been the culmination of three

Delytics previously worked with

years of cooperation of growers with

Citrus Australia to implement

on-farm maturity testing, cooperation

quality standards and improve

from the major supermarkets and

consumer acceptability.

consumer acceptability preference,”

“One of the major supermarket chains

Jeff said.

is of the firm view that strong sales,

“While this season has been a

repeat purchases and category growth

transition year to adherence to the

are directly linked to the development

industry maturity standard, next

and implementation of the Australian

season it will become compulsory.

Citrus Quality Standards,” Citrus

With the support again from the

Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said.

supermarkets all growers will

Mark said Delytics’ experience from working with Australian fruit

produce mature fruit that reaches the industry standard.

industries, like citrus, “has shown that

“Going forward, there will be an on-

extensive experience in crop quality

with continuing industry adoption

going project with Hort Innovation

assurance to work alongside the ATGA,

and goodwill, consumer acceptability

to maintain the grower uptake of the

stakeholders, Kitchener Partners

can remain at very high levels on an

standards and provide assurance and

and Rudge Produce Systems Ltd,

ongoing basis”.

support to the major retailers at DC

to establish a minimum maturity standard, which will be implemented fully from the 2020–21 season.

As reported in the Vine’s February 2020 edition, early results of 82.9 per cent exceeded the target acceptability.

“We have been privileged to lead this

Monitoring for the project – which will

exciting project and are very pleased

be completed by June – concluded in


level for continued monitoring of the standards.” v


CO N SU ME R I N S I G HT S S H O W M A R K ET R O B U STN ES S Table grapes were ahead of the

slowed, and even declined by 3.3 per

pack for the year ending 22 March

cent for total fruit, while table grapes

2020, recent data reveals.

fared better at 0.4 per cent decline,

Data released by Nielsen recently for Hort Innovation’s Harvest to Home website further supported the results of the Australian Table Grape Association project Table grape supply chain quality 2017– 2020, which showed a marked increase in consumer acceptability since the industry established national maturity standards last year.

Market overview Sales of table grapes by dollar increased by 5.7 per cent for the year ending 22 March 2020,

indicating a robustness in the market despite challenging environmental factors.

The insights provided in both these and the maturity project monitoring show outcomes detailed in the Table Grape Industry Strategic Investment

Buyer behaviour

Plan (SIP) are being achieved.

Household buying behaviours varied,

Specifically, one of the SIP

with average annual spend increasing to $49.10 for the year ending 22 March 2020, up on $3.40 on the previous year, while average weight purchased and percentage of buying

outcomes was “demand-building strategies and increased prices for Australian table grapes supported by improvements in product quality”, demonstrated

households remained steady.

by the growth and steadiness

State of play

consumer acceptability. v

of the market and increase in

Western Australia grew the most, with 21.3 per cent sales growth by dollar,

compared to 2.9 per cent growth

and 7.6 per cent for volume.

for total fruit. Table grapes were

Who buys our table grapes?

rising fast for the year ending

purchased annually.

1 December 2019, at 15.5 per

Small scale families led repeat

cent for dollar sales and 10.1 per

purchasing, with an average spend of

cent for volume, but growth then

$60.13, 11 buying occasions and 9.8kg

See page 20 for more insights and graphs.

“Suppliers of improved grapevine rootstock and scion wood to the grape industry” Contact Gary Thomas Tel: (03) 5022 8499 Mob: 0418 997 730 PO Box 5051, Mildura Vic 3502 Email: Please see website for more information & order forms



Partnering for success Dried Fruits Australia, in partnership with the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre (MRIC), is investigating options to mechanise the pruning of dried grape vines.

key options for detailed investigation,

Dried Fruits Trust and the former

which were:

DFA branches.

1. How well can the physiology of the

Once the 2020 harvest is complete, a

swingarm production system adapt

follow-up meeting will be held with the

to mechanised pruning?

La Trobe University researchers before

2. Can an efficient and effective cutting system that can prune about two hectares a day, leaving only a

DFA field officer Stuart Putland said

small amount of hand pruning,

pruning was probably the biggest cost

be designed?

activity in dried grape production.

could be made to current

costs in a similar way to how the

pruning systems?

cost of harvest, then there will be significant benefits for improving the profitability of dried grape production,” Stuart said.

year facilitated meetings and a field site visit to Sunraysia for La Trobe University Department of Engineering’s Dr Robert Ross, Dr Ed Kazmierczak and Erik Van Vulpen.

Innovation to run two half-day

The purpose of the field visit was to

workshops looking for ideas to reduce

investigate option 2 (above), view

the cost of winter pruning. Workshop

pruning firsthand, and meet growers to

participants included leading dried

discuss the needs of industry.

experts, and local machinery and electrical experts.

the full project costs. v

MRIC CEO Rebecca Wells last

In 2018, DFA partnered with Hort

grape growers, processors, robotics

matched funding opportunities to raise

3. What incremental improvements

“If the industry can reduce pruning mechanised harvester reduced the

determining and applying for suitable

Robert has since compiled a technical feasibility report, which details a prototype mechanical winter pruning

Top: Dried grape grower Ashley Johnstone discussing with La Trobe University engineers the pruning outcomes growers are trying to achieve.

The workshop examined current

system for cordon-based vine

pruning practice, technical capabilities

systems. The industry has assessed

of robotics, and agricultural machinery

the project and agreed to provide half

engineering. The group identified three

the funding from the resources of the

Below: Erik Van Vulpen, Robert Ross and Ed Kazmierczak from the La Trobe University Department of Engineering.

Opened in May 2019, the Mallee

region by complementing established

Bergamin (Mildura Fruit Company

Regional Innovation Centre is a joint

activities and seeking opportunities to

business development manager),

venture between the University of

foster new areas of development.

Jenny Collins (Mallee Catchment

Melbourne, La Trobe University

MRIC is supported by a local strategic

Centre for innovation

and SuniTAFE.

advisory panel, which comprises the

The centre’s remit is to prioritise

following members: Leonie Burrows

and fast track research projects to

(SAP chair), Anne Mansell (DFA

strategically address key challenges

CEO), Anthony Couroupis (Lower

of the region in the areas of

Murray Water managing director),

horticulture, water, energy, and the

Peter O’Donnell (Southern Cross

environment. It is adding value to the

Farms executive director), Ferdi


Management Authority CEO), Ross Lake (Integrated Water Management chair), Pat Timmons (Rural Financial Counselling Service – North West executive officer), Paul Dillon (Mallee Rising CEO) and Stefano di Pieri (Mildura Regional Development board member).


Industry events go online News from our field officer Now that harvest is mostly out of the way, it’s time to focus on this year’s DFA and Hort Innovation-funded extension program.

group events later in the year, we

But for now we will focus on the some

may continue to offer some online.

of the more desk-bound activities,

I’ve been investigating options for

like collating the benchmarking

webinars and was glad to discover

information and updating the Dried

how much easier the technology has

Grape Best Practice Guides.

The first activities for 2020 have

camera, microphone and speakers. I’ve

been delivered entirely online, which I believe is a first for the dried grape industry! Available on DFA’s YouTube channel, the videos show the final stages of the minimal pruning demonstration that we first saw at Ashley Johnstone’s property in

become to use. Most people should be able to take part from their phone, tablet, or home computer if it has a been able to participate in statewide meetings from my home internet connection in the back blocks of Sunnycliffs, so hopefully we can make it work from most places. Before we try a webinar, we’ll give you plenty

While the guides are available for download on the DFA website, we are nearly out of the printed versions, so it’s a good time to review them. It will take some time, so don’t expect to see anything immediately. However, if you have any comments on the content or layout of the guides, please contact us with your suggestions.

of time to get organised and provide

We are also going to develop some

detailed instructions and a trial run

video packages around winter pruning.

The trial involves two pairs of rows

if necessary.

We will try a discussion-type video on

in which the canes were first pinned

When we resume group activities, they

June 2019.

down with the floating wire and rolling-on was virtually abandoned. Depending on how much rolling-on growers were normally doing, this method could save between 10 and 30 per cent of the time involved. The technique was put to the test during summer pruning and harvest. As we couldn’t invite everyone out to have a look, we filmed it so you could see how well the crop remained on the trellis after cutting and how evenly it went through the harvester. I couldn’t pick a difference between the minimally pruned and normal vines. All the canes hung on to the

will be centred around: - I rrigation management and making the best use of soil moisture monitoring systems and NDVI satellite information - Visits to some of our industry best-practice sites -U sing disease modelling information to better predict outbreaks - The annual DFA grower forum - I f the borders are open, a visit

different pruning strategies as well as a training video that may help new seasonal workers get up to speed more quickly. The final activity in the program is the development of a mechanised pruning system. However, as you can see on the opposite page, that’s literally another story! v Stuart Putland Dried Fruits Australia field officer 03 5023 5174

to South Australia to meet some of the new generation of viticulture researchers.

trellis during drying, there was no bunching of canes in front of the harvester, and all the rows in the patch – regardless of pruning method – yielded about two bins per row. The event videos have been viewed more than 100 times each at the time of writing. We haven’t had that many people turn up to an event during harvest, so there are some benefits to running events this way. While we have planned to begin our



2020 prune harvest update The 2020 Australian prune harvest is almost complete (at the time of writing), but with mixed results. Early predictions for an average crop look like they may have failed to materialise for a lot of growers. Some growers suffered the effects of the heat waves and then saw their crops further compromised by the rain that fell right at the time fruit was susceptible. The rain caused fruit to split and there was also significant

jobs had mixed results with some not

Growers also offered their

doing so well because the sugar levels

experiences. Below are a few of the

were average, which resulted in a

theories as to why sticky fruit occurs:

poor dry-out ratio and final yield,” Michael said.

- Over-mature fruit that goes soft and damages in harvest, leaking sugar out

Others, like Craig Tropeano, said rain

during drying, then as fruit is rotated

at the wrong time caused quite a bit

to even out the moisture, the sugar

of fruit drop and ultimately below average yield. Despite the lower yield, Craig said the overall quality was very good – although there were patches of sticky fruit.

spreads over more fruit. - Damaged fruit leaking sugar in the wash bath increasing the sugar to water ratio, effectively covering all fruit with a sticky coating. - Fruit that is not dried to the required

fruit drop.

Sticky fruit

moisture; soft fruit in the bins being

Australian Prune Industry Association

Sticky fruit was a topic at Angas Park’s

the fruit.

(APIA) chair Tony Tuscan was yet to

grower function in January where the

receive final drying figures for his crop

question of what causes fruit to go

but thought it might be slightly above

sticky was posed.

average this season.

squashed and allowing sugar out of - Over mature fruit late in the season. David said the main problem with sticky fruit was that it could clump,

Angas Park supply and receivals

with multiple pieces of fruit

Good sugar levels in deputy chair

manager David Swain said it was not

sticking together.

Michael Zalunardo’s orchard meant

known why sticky fruit occurred.

that his average crop of fruit dried out really well. “Unfortunately, our contract drying


“This requires manual handling in

“I have some theories, but without any

the grading process, which is a slow

scientific background to substantiate

process and obviously increases the

them that is all they are,” he said.

cost of grading,” he said.


New plantings

individual’s decision as to where the

trees and they look great going into

risk line is drawn with respect to tree

dormancy with a healthy leaf cover and

age,” Grant said.

no signs of stress,” he said.

above average this season, whereas

“Many factors, including soil type,

“We were also quite lucky in that

production from older trees was well

canopy management, irrigation and

there were very few tree losses, so we

below average.

fertiliser management and possibly

haven’t lost our productive capacity for

rootstock selection, will also

next season.” v

Grower feedback suggests that younger trees generally performed

However, while growers would like to have access to improved varieties, they recognise that the reality is there are very few or no alternative varieties in the pipeline in the near future. The industry was forced to stop formal evaluation at its two variety evaluation blocks a couple of year ago due to a lack of research funds. Most or all of the varieties in that trial are now in commercial production and originated

influence production.”

Young region Prune grower and processor Jeff Granger reported the southern side

“Following a good blossom and fruit set, the region experienced a period of extreme heat and wind and no rainfall,”

provides the industry with information

“This, coupled with limited irrigation

about variety performance.

water, saw the crop diminish and eventually almost disappear.”

that thankfully 707, which has become

Despite the disastrous harvest this

the backbone of Australia’s prune

year, Jeff remains positive.

“In relation to new plantings, it is the

03 5023 5174

good year.

Jeff said.

industry, is a good variety.

APIA national secretariat

of the Young district did not have a

in the US or France. This trial site still

Former APIA chair Grant Delves noted

Phil Chidgzey

“On the brighter side, the rain that fell in late February has revived the

Opposite page: Jeff Granger’s healthy trees. Below: Images from the 2020 harvest.



Young farmer’s bright future

As a child, sitting in the office of her parents’ table grape business pretending to write invoices, Jennifer Zappia knew agriculture would be her future.

Perpetual Prize in Industrial Relations

in August 2018, Jennifer has been

Practice for her proficiency in industry

able to represent not only the table

relations, Jennifer followed her natural

grape industry but young women in

course back to her family’s Merbein

agriculture in a number of contexts.

Season after season, she watched her parents, Sandra and John Argiro, be


“The YFAC has been a really exciting

What the 24-year-old couldn’t predict,

opportunity and a really great way for

though, was only a few short years

me to represent Sunraysia and table

later she would be advising the

grapes at a government level,” she said.

Victorian Government on matters

Last year, Jennifer worked with

progressive in order to adapt to the

affecting young people in agriculture.

industry’s unpredictable nature.

Jennifer is one of seven members on

inaugural Sunraysia Young Farmer

Jennifer developed a passion for the

Agriculture Victoria’s Young Farmers

Business Boot Camp.

table grape industry – the lifestyle, the anticipation of a season, the opportunities – and even challenges –

Advisory Council (YFAC), which provides a voice for young people in agriculture and mentors the sector’s

that each year could bring.

leaders of tomorrow.

“My passion is a direct result of my

“(YFAC) represents young people

parents … of what I would see growing up,” Jennifer said. “I always knew that I wanted to be in

from all across the state and people

Agriculture Victoria to host the

“The boot camp provided (local farmers) an opportunity to up-skill,” Jennifer said. “An indirect benefit was the friendships that formed.

from different agricultural industries,”

“At the end there was a dry land farmer

Jennifer said.

who had become friends with a table grape grower.

agriculture and that’s because I was

“Very timely has been drought – a lot of

around it all the time.”

our focus has been on that.

Like a good season, the yields

“We also talk about how to attract

of Jennifer’s career choice have

young people into ag, and we talk about

been positive.

school-based curriculums including

The project came about as a result of

more of an agriculture sense, because

Jennifer’s role on the YFAC and her

unless those people have been involved

participation in the Northern Mallee

in the industry, unfortunately a lot of

Leaders Program, which Jennifer

people don’t understand the processes

completed last year.

After studying a Bachelor of Commerce – majoring in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management and Management – at The University of Sydney, and having been awarded the Jack McCormack


that it takes to get food to the table.” Since securing a role on the council

“Fostering those friendships wouldn’t have been achieved without the boot camp.”

Not only did she help initiate that boot camp – Jennifer also completed a


Masterclass in Horticultural Business

“We’re in the midst of COVID-19

“Agriculture and horticulture have a

with the University of Tasmania.

and I think this has reinforced the

really exciting future – especially table

importance of agriculture,”

grapes,” she said.

Jennifer was also “taken aback” when offered the opportunity to sit across

Jennifer said.

“It’s a really exciting industry to be in.

from former US Secretary of State

“The fact that we’ve been deemed an

I think our export opportunities have

John Kerry, and on a panel of “young

essential service and can still operate

really enabled the industry to grow at a

pioneers” following his keynote

and continue as normal, with new

rate that other industries haven’t been

address, after he opened the food

policies and procedures to adhere

able to and we’ve been very fortunate

future event Global Table.

to the social distancing, that’s really

to be involved.” v

The event focused on solving the world’s biggest food challenges and Jennifer had the opportunity to ask

reinforced the importance of the industry not only internationally but domestically.”

John Kerry a number of questions

Jennifer said she was proud to work in

relating to the future of food. Her

table grapes, and believed the industry

questions focused on whether it was

would continue to have a bright future

the government’s responsibility to

– like she will, it seems likely.

determine where crops are produced in

Below left: Jennifer is a member of Agriculture Victoria’s Young Farmer’s Advisory Council. Picture: Agriculture Victoria Below right: Jennifer sat on a panel of “young pioneers” opposite former US Secretary of State John Kerry. Picture: Global Table

farming communities, and how to draw young people – and people in general – into the agriculture industry. They were appropriate questions – almost prophetic – given the global food security questions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, in a time that Jennifer said is important for the agriculture sector.



Consumer behaviour at a glance Table grape domestic market insights provided by Nielsen Datascan via Hort Innovation’s Harvest to Home project.




uples d co e h s bli ta Es

households purchased



total spend



Start up fam ilies



Tr an

s ca


a ll







Senio r co up les

ingles ndent s epe Ind



il i e

u Yo





buying occasions

Bustling families



RETAILER DOLLAR ($) GROWTH 18% 16.3% 16%










Year ending 1 December 2019


Year ending 22 March 2020 10.1%


10% 8%

8% 6%

8% 6%



4.4% 4%








Year ending 1 December 2019

Source: Nielsen Datascan via Harvest to Home




Year ending 22 March 2020




Dried grape trade report Dried grape import and export statistics for a 12-month period from January to December 2019.


2018 2019

















2018 2019


















2019: 18,142 t 2018: 21,665 t 2017: 24,392 t

2019: 5388 t 2018: 5614 t 2017: 3706 t

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics



Life among the vines

From the mechanisation of harvest to the introduction of new varieties and improved viticultural practices, Brian Boulton has had a hand in the transformation of the dried grape industry over the past 60 years. A third-generation dried fruit grower from Vinifera, Victoria, Brian has

grower when he left school at 16

working the farm, it’s still very much a

years old.

family affair.

For a few years, Brian worked with his

Brendan, who has worked on the

dad and did some contracting for other

farm since leaving school, has taken

growers. But when his father died when

over the reins. Iris still manages the

Brian was just 21 years old, he was

administration side of the business,

left with the responsibility of the

having also stepped back from working

family farm.

alongside her husband and son.

“My grandparents started growing

Brian always maintained an active

dried fruit in Vinifera in 1929, and my

involvement in the industry.

parents in 1954,” Brian said.

For 43 consecutive years he attended

enjoyed 40 years as president of the

“When I took over my parents’ farm, I

the DFA annual conference, which

mid-Murray branch of Dried Fruits

started growing the business by buying

began in Melbourne as the Australian

Australia (DFA) and almost 20 years as

neighbouring properties as they came

Dried Fruits Association federal

a member of the DFA board.

up for sale. The property we have now

councils. His last meeting, in Mildura,

was originally five blocks.”

was in 2018.

board last year, Brian has reflected on

Brian and his wife Iris and their two

Brian also had an interest in water,

his time in the industry.

children, Brendan and Jenny, now

serving on the Mallee Catchment

own 37 hectares, growing sultanas,

Management Authority and Goulburn-

Sunmuscat, currants and raisins.

Murray Water committees.

While Brian has recently retired from

Thinking back on his 18 years on the

Following his resignation from the

Brian began helping his father on the block from a young age, officially commencing his career as a dried fruit



DFA board, Brian says one of the

rack shaker, and finishing them off on

highlights was helping to promote

sheets on the ground before loading

Sunmuscat and its many positives.

them into wooden sweatboxes – often

“Sunmuscat is an extremely good

loading them by hand.

product with a beautiful flavour,”

“Then we started drying grapes on the

he said.

vine, harvesting with a mechanical

“Going forward, I believe the industry needs to concentrate on the early maturing varieties as we need to

harvester, finishing the fruit off with gas dehydrators, and then loading them into plastic bins using a forklift.”

“Going forward, I believe the industry needs to concentrate on the early maturing varieties as we need to harness the good drying weather of our summer.”

harness the good drying weather of

Brian also recalls the days of watering

our summer.”

from small concrete channels for

Opposite page: Brian Boulton.

furrow irrigation, and the transition to

Above: Iris, Brian, Brendan and Jenny at their Vinifera property.

Brian consistently looked to improve his business and production practices

overhead sprinklers and drip irrigation.

by travelling to Mildura for field days

“We also learnt different ways to help

and demonstrations, and even hosting

manage frost – from frost pots to

events at his own farm.

rolling the ground to keep the heat of

“The dried fruits industry has seen a lot of changes over the years,” he said.

the day from escaping and not working up the soil until the frost season is well and truly over,” he said. v

“In the beginning, we were picking grapes by hand, drying them on racks, shaking them off by hand or with the



A time to reflect POST-HA RV E ST V I N EYA R D M A N AG EM EN T

A challenging 2019 growing season started with very low winter and spring rainfall, extended heat waves, unseasonal dust storms and smoke haze.

- Cultivate midrows and headlands to reduce soil compaction - Sow a cover crop (oats, ryegrass or mixed seed) in midrows to boost soil biology

management decisions to improve next growing season, with post-harvest providing a great opportunity to plan and prepare vines for dormancy (time

aeration and water infiltration - Repair and replace broken intermediate and strainer posts and retention fruiting wires.

of rest) before leading into spring.

Post-harvest fertigation is necessary

April and May are optimum to:

for replenishing vines with nutrition

- Apply fungicide/insecticide sprays to control powdery mildew spores, mite populations and mealy bug - Check soil health/chemistry with a soil test - Apply good fertiliser (NPK) back into the soil for vine uptake before leaf fall - Conduct bud dissections to check bud fertility before pruning - Spread a good mulch or composted manure to the undervine

after crop removal and these young new roots require moisture to uptake nutrients from fertiliser. Soil dryness can result in uneven bud burst, stunted growth and small flower clusters.

- Deep rip compacted soils to encourage better root growth, soil

Now is a time to reflect and make some

The second annual root flush occurs

and building carbohydrate reserves before dormancy – “refuelling” the vine for spring growth. From harvest to leaf fall vines uptake 30 per cent of nitrogen as part of

In some cases good leaching irrigations are required to push salt minerals through the soil profile to avoid the uptake by the vine. If winter rainfall is very low (<25– 30mm), irrigations during August will refill the soil profile prior to bud burst. Pruning is a costly but critical aspect of successful grape growing and impacts vine function by influencing: - Vine shape and size - The balance between vegetative and fruit growth within the vine

recovery after crop production and removal. Good spring budburst is strongly associated with post-harvest nutrition management and recovery from high yielding production.

- Fruit production quantity and quality. Before pruning, bud fruitfulness can be assessed by collecting and dissecting buds under a microscope

Irrigation is essential post-harvest,

then counting the number of

as it is important to maintain good

inflorescences (bunch structures).

soil moisture through to leaf fall.

This can be performed rapidly and

R&D VITICULTURAL SERVICES PTY LTD 2020 BUD DISSECTIONS FOR ALL VINEYARDS (TABLE GRAPE, WINE, DRIED FRUIT) Did you wish you had more fruit this season OR did you have too much? Bud dissections are a very useful tool to: • Assess the fruitfulness (viability) of each bud • Detect dead, necrotic or unfruitful buds • Insight into general bud health • Review pruning strategy – increase or decrease crop load For all enquires call 0427 000 565 or email



results can be obtained well before decisions on pruning levels are made. Bud fertility allows an assessment of bud health and can indicate if buds are dead, necrotic or unviable. Frost, hail, drought, nutrition, excessive canopy shading and plant hormones such as Gibberellic Acid can impact bud fertility. Post-harvest vineyard management is not the finish to this season, but it is the start of maximising the yield and fruit quality for the next year while reducing the disease risk and stress on vines. v Rachael McClintock Viticulture consultant Above: Pruning can influence vine shape and size, fruit growth, production quality or quantity.

Protection of the Ralli Seedless We pride ourselves on the high quality that Ralli Seedless have come to be known for. We’ve received many enquiries about the availability of Ralli Seedless vines and cuttings from next year - once its PBR protection expires. It’s important that industry members understand that this expiry does not put G & I Ralli & Sons Pty Ltd’s (“G & I Ralli”) rights in the Ralli Seedless vines into public domain. All Ralli Seedless vines that are in the possession of nurseries or growers have been supplied by G & I Ralli (or else are illegal), which has never sold the rights of ownership of any Ralli Seedless vines, cuttings or plant material and has only granted leases or licences to the right to grow or propagate fruit from such vines, cuttings or plant material.

The PBR expiry next year does not change the fact that all of those vines, cuttings and plant material are still the property of G & I Ralli. Any person who attempts to deal with them in a way inconsistent with our company’s property rights will be pursued to the fullest extent permitted by law.

We welcome all enquiries pertaining to the supply of Ralli Seedless vines, cuttings or plant material. Please contact: Joe Ralli m: 0427 375 625

Anyone parting with possession of Ralli Seedless vines, cuttings and plant material or purporting to sell or lease the same, without our company’s prior written approval, or in any other way to deal with them free of our company’s rights and not subject to our prior approval will be, in effect, dealing with our company’s property illegally. Our company would, in such circumstances, be entitled to take court action whether a private prosecution under the criminal law for theft or under the civil law for conversion and it will not hesitate to do so if necessary.



Rising to the challenge Anthony believes fruit fly has become more manageable for growers now the broader community is more aware of the pest and the threat it poses to local horticulture industries. “The mass trapping and free tree removal programs made people really aware of the seriousness of the pest, and through these efforts the number of QFF in the region has stagnated – a really beneficial outcome,” he said. “A whole community approach is critical for the long-term management of QFF. “Management isn’t just about table

Sunraysia table grape growers like Anthony Zappia are adapting their farming practices to meet the persistent challenge of Queensland fruit fly (QFF).

Originally from Robinvale, where his father, uncle and brother still farm 40 hectares of table grapes, Anthony is

grape and other growers – everyone in the surrounding towns and communities need to do their part to

now redeveloping and managing the

manage the pest.

family’s 15-hectare property

“If you have trees in your backyard,

in Merbein. “In the early years, our business used a baiting technique to manage for fruit

maintain them. If you can’t maintain them, ring the greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area and get them removed.

fly,” Anthony said.

Every bit helps.” v

“Bait spraying works really effectively

Information to support growers in

but it can become quite time

managing for fruit fly can be found

consuming, so in recent years we

at or by

have adapted our spray programs to

contacting Greater Sunraysia Pest

“In subsequent harvests, growers became aware fruit fly could penetrate table grapes and that it wouldn’t discriminate,” he said.

target QFF in our crucial times and it’s

Free Area on 03 5022 0327 or at

working well.

“While table grapes aren’t a favoured host for fruit fly, infestation can lead to berry breakdown so it’s important to have good management strategies

as part of our spray programs. I think

in place.”

practices annually.”

Anthony, who was quite new to the industry when QFF populations began escalating in the region, said growers weren’t fully aware of the impacts of the pest.

Examples of Queensland fruit fly damage to table grapes. Visit for more information.


“In terms of the future, it will just be

Above: Table grape grower Anthony Zappia.

another pest we have to manage for there will be years where it will more severe than others and we will just have to adjust our farming

“A whole community approach is critical for the long-term management of QFF. ”


Exotic fruit flies in focus A program that is paramount to protecting mainland Australia from exotic fruit fly incursions is on track to achieve eradication again this year. The success of the Exotic Fruit Fly in the Torres Strait Eradication Program, which has been running since the mid1990s, was recognised at the National Fruit Fly Council’s most recent meeting in Brisbane on 5 March. Queensland chief plant health manager Mike Ashton led a discussion about the program with local industry representatives. National Fruit Fly Council manager Christina Cook said eradicating exotic fruit fly incursions in Torres Strait prevented their establishment on the Australian mainland, saving industries and governments a significant amount of money and resources. “When oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) was last detected in Australia in 1995, it took four years and cost $34 million to eradicate, with an estimated cost to industry of $100 million,” Christina said.

The Exotic Fruit Fly in the Torres Strait Response Plan 2018-2021 outlines the strategy for eradicating exotic fruit flies from the region and builds on the approach implemented since 1996 under the Long-term Containment Strategy for Exotic Fruit Flies in Torres Strait. It aims to stop the annual incursion of three fruit fly species – Zeugodacus cucurbitae, Bactrocera dorsalis and B. trivialis – using a program of bait spraying, trapping and male-annihilation blocking. As of 11 March 2020, 94 Bactrocera dorsalis, 12 B. trivialis and zero Zeugodacus cucurbitae have been intercepted during the current monsoon season (November 2019 – May 2020).

deliver the response plan. Currently, a cost shared budget of $1.642 million is agreed until 30 June 2021. Contributions come from the Australian Government, Northern Territory, all state governments, Plant Health Australia and affected industry parties. v Growers can connect with the National Fruit Fly Council through the Prevent Fruit Fly website: The council is also planning to host a series of regional fruit fly workshops once life returns to normal. If you have any questions or suggestions for a workshop in your area, contact

“These interceptions have initiated response activity on five islands in Torres Strait, which is a fairly typical pattern of detection and response for this time of the year,” Christina said. The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) works with staff from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy program to

Above: A female oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis). Image: Scott Bauer, Wikimedia Commons.

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Grand designs DES I G N I N G A F E MA LE M AS S TR A P P I N G STR ATEGY F OR MA N AG I N G F R U I T F L I ES I N TA B L E G R A P ES Fruit flies are an increasing problem in Sunraysia, and this has considerable implications for the table grape industry in the region. This year, a new project – funded by Hort Innovation using the table grape research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government – has commenced, developing a mass trapping strategy for Queensland fruit fly (QFF) that targets the female flies. The two-year project is led by Agriculture Victoria, and began this February with initial studies setting out fruit fly traps in table grape vineyards. “The aim of the project is to explore what a mass trapping program would look like in table grapes,” explained Dr Paul Cunningham, who leads the project for Agriculture Victoria. “Vineyards are different to fruit orchards, which provide a lot of shade for the flies. So

we need to first understand how the flies behave in and around the vineyard – do they move in and out of the crop, do they have refuge sites nearby, are surrounding fruit trees important sources of flies? This information will help us to set up a trapping system tailored to table grapes.” Over the last few years, Agriculture Victoria has designed and field validated a new trap for female QFF, which will be central to this project. The trap combines a visual cue with a synthetic odour containing a combination of fruit and microbial odours, and specifically targets mated female flies. Field trials in Victorian fruit orchards showed the new trap was significantly better than other commercially available traps. “We’ll be looking at how our new trap works alongside protein traps such as the Biotrap, which are more targeted towards unmated females,” Dr Cunningham said. “It may be that a mixed trapping strategy works best.”

Before COVID-19 caused restrictions on field work in 2020, Dr Cunningham’s team were underway meeting with table grape growers in Sunraysia and putting out traps in vineyards. “Growers have been fantastic,” said Dr Jessi Henneken, who is leading the experimental work on the project. “We’ve learnt a great deal already —for instance that particular grape varieties seem to be less susceptible than others. We’ll be exploring this further as we go along.” The project team is very keen to hear from growers who might be interested in taking part in the program next season, and will be running a workshop connected to the project later in 2020. v For enquiries, contact Dr Jessi Henneken Agriculture Victoria

Below left: Agriculture Victoria’s Dr Jessi Henneken leads experimental work on a new Hort Innovationfunded table grape project to develop a masstrapping strategy for Queensland fruit fly. Below: Farm manager Agriculture Victoria Irymple Jakson Batchelor.



High priority exotic pest threat G RA PE V I N E RE D B L OTC H AS S O C I ATED V I R U S

Grapevine red blotchassociated virus (GRBaV) causes red blotches on grapevine leaves and significantly reduces the accumulation of sugar in grapes. GRBaV was first detected in California in 2008, however, early studies suggested the virus was not new. It had previously gone unnoticed as its symptoms are similar to those of leafroll virus.

Protecting your vineyard The main way the virus spreads is through grafting and propagation material. Researchers also think there may be a vector for the virus because it can affect both young and mature grapevines. To protect your vineyard against GRBaV: -S ource high health status (preferably certified) plant material from reliable and accredited suppliers -C heck your vineyard frequently

Signs and symptoms

for the presence of new pests and

Red blotches

unusual symptoms

Symptoms of GRVaV generally start to

investigate any sick grapevines for

-M ake sure you are familiar with

appear in autumn as irregular blotches

common grapevine pests so you can

on leaf blades and the base of shoots.

tell if you see something different

The leaf veins (primary and secondary) turn red, and red blotches appear between the veins. Grapevines with GRBaV can have quite similar symptoms to those caused

-K eep records of anything unusual -E nsure all staff and visitors adhere to on farm biosecurity and hygiene practices.

by leafroll virus. However, there are

If you have noticed anything unusual

two distinct differences that can

in your vineyard, call the Exotic Plant

easily be seen. Leafroll virus causes

Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. v

red in and around only the secondary veins of the leaf – the primary veins and surrounding area remain green. Leafroll virus also causes the edge of the leaf to roll onto itself, but GRBaV does not.

Reduced sugar accumulation GRBaV can significantly reduce sugar accumulation by up to 5° brix and

This series from Plant Health Australia features exotic pests that would survive, spread and establish in Australian vineyards should they get through border quarantine controls. Growers should be familiar with their appearance and symptoms so that they can distinguish them from the pests that they normally encounter.

Top: Grapevine infected with grapevine red blotch-associated virus. Image: Marc Fuchs, Cornell University. Below: Symptoms of grapevine red blotchassociated virus include red blotches around the leaf and through the primary and secondary veins. Image: M R Sudarshana, USDA-ARS.

increase acidity. Lower than expected brix values may be a sign of the virus. It is likely that GRBaV would be first detected in wine grapes as they are carefully monitored for sugar content to determine harvest date.



Season of uncertainty AU ST RA L I A N P R EM I U M D R I ED F R U I TS

Dried grape markets do not seem to be severely affected by COVID-19. If anything, we have seen an increase in sales of dried fruit and nut products as a result of panic buying, so the impact of the global pandemic has luckily not impacted our industry too heavily.

the previous two or three seasons. This darker colour is unwelcome for growers who receive lower grades and subsequently lower prices per tonne, combined with the possibility of extra costs for dehydration. This flows through to the processor, which typically has higher yield losses and reduced efficiency through production

We are thinking of all family and

as well as lower prices for darker-

friends who may not be so lucky to be

coloured fruit (compared to prices on

in an industry like the food industry.

offer in the premium light-coloured

Travel, tourism and hospitality have

export markets).

been greatly impacted, so we hope for a prompt recovery so people can get back to normal.

What we should accept though is that this is more like a normal season than the perfect weather conditions

around Christmas time, with young bunches cooking in the 48-degree conditions. While some growers lost their entire crop, the average loss was 20 to 30 per cent – a huge surprise for this typically robust grape. It is thought that the timing of veraison and lack of maturity (sugar) was the reason the grapes cooked in the extreme heat. Some growers who used seaweed fertiliser on their Sunglo had greater resistance to damage, so please talk to Larry if you want to find out more about this. Sunmuscat generally survived the extreme heat in December, but the rain events in March followed by high

Our own business has taken steps

experienced in the last few years when

to reduce the risk through scaled up

the rain stayed away. Growers who are

hygiene, separation of departments

prepared to handle difficult weather

and minimal contact with external

conditions succeed more often than

colleagues. We understand the need to

not. A strategy of risk minimisation –

keep receiving fruit during harvest, so

where these types of conditions are

we are making sure our Wargan Road

almost expected, with the resources

site has several segregated teams

to react quickly if rain is coming – has

available to take over in the case of an

seen growers achieve the best results

unlikely detection.

year on year.

At the time of writing, we are waiting

Surprisingly, the two highest-rated

on the outcome of the 2020 crop.

sultana types for weather tolerance

Thompson sultanas are still to be

(Sunmuscat and Sunglo) have

harvested and the rain events of early

experienced the most damage this

March have introduced a greater mix

season. Sunglo was the variety most

Good luck again to all our growers and

of darker colours than we have seen in

severely impacted by the extreme heat

we hope that by the time this article

humidity brought on the early stages of slip skin and rot. This too was a surprise and something we did not expect from this robust variety, but as cutting was taking place as the damage was starting to develop it is hoped the grower will not be impacted by loss of weight or grades. The crops on all varieties look good at this stage, so we are hopeful of an increase in volume from last season as our new developments have come into production.

is being read we are celebrating a successful season.v Grower enquiries: Grower liaison officer Larry Dichiera | 0488 199 221

Left: Rain damaged Sunmuscat Right: Heat damaged Sunglo



Challenging season for all S U N B E A M F O O D S & A N G AS PA R K

The dried fruits industry is used to dealing with challenging circumstances, but things have gone to a new level this season. The availability and cost of water and weather conditions have been against all crops. Hail and excessive heat for dried tree fruits, and excessive heat and rain for dried grape and prune producers. However, the bombshell for all of us is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought many new challenges to our lives.

Crop quality The apricot crop was slightly down on volume in 2018/19 due to crop losses through hail, but the fruit that was dried is a good colour and size and will

having a significant impact on dried

grateful and proud to be a part of the

fruit sales in March and early April.

food industry in Australia. Fortunately,

“Retail sale levels in the early part of the year are normally very modest

“We are cognisant of the difficult time

compared to the latter part of the year

so many of our fellow Australians

approaching Christmas,” Grant said.

are going through from both a health

“It seems that many shelf-stable foods were part of the pantry stocking (over) reaction of consumers and this included dried fruit selling well above normal demand. For Sunbeam, these extra sales were across the product range but particularly for dried vine fruits, prunes and apricots. “The Sunbeam factory had to go from first to fifth gear in just a couple

Sunmuscats, while slightly darker than previous years, came through with a consistent amber brown colour. Rain delayed the drying of currants, but quality was unaffected. Sunglo volumes were down by 30 per cent with

did a great job, all while coping with

be down by about 40 per cent on the

Field officer (including SA) Alan Lister | 0409 437 801

Dried tree fruit operations manager Luke Fitzsimmons | 0431 894 515

staff had to get used to plenty of changes like getting their temperature taken before starting work, following the physical distancing rules, and even ‘fire break’ separation of our skilled crews. Sunbeam was an early adopter of a comprehensive set of COVID-19


a good size, but the overall crop will

David Swain | 0407 834 044

food processing is already a religion,

The prune crop suffered due to

drop. The dried product is sound and

Supply manager dried fruit

“While hand washing and sanitising in

policies and procedures to protect

events caused the fruit to split and


them and their families safe from any

sunburn decimating exposed bunches. excessive heat (fruit drop), then rain

through this difficult time.” v

Gary Simpson | 0429 960 234

continuous supply. The factory team

intrusion of the virus.

of sultanas and delayed drying.

participants remain safe and well

Field officer

Dried vine fruits showed good

separate rain events caused browning

and trust all growers and industry

supermarket customers and maintain

new procedures designed to keep

predominantly light-coloured fruit. Two

and financial perspective. We hope

of weeks in order to support our

satisfy market demand. potential to deliver another season of

eating is not a discretionary activity.

our staff, growers, and supply to

Panic buying has resulted in a significant increase in dried fruit sales.

“We don’t know if an opposite pantry de-stocking will occur at a later time. That probably depends on how long the national ‘lockdown’ lasts and how much

previous year.

consumers eat of their pantry stocks,

Dried fruit sales

boost to sales early in the year.

but we are pleased to have had a good

Sunbeam Foods general manager

“With both vine fruits and prune yields

Grant Leyden said there had been an

down in 2020 and major changes in

unexpected flow-on effect from the

foreign exchange rates, there are

COVID-19 pandemic, with panic buying

tougher times to come. We are likely all



Primed for success MU RRAY R I V ER O R G A N I C S

Murray River Organics welcomed Australia’s largest retailer, Woolworths, to their farms in late 2019 to share a first-hand view of the region and a collective plan for success in the future.

“We were elated to recently be

In October 2019, former Federal

awarded a two-year agreement to

Police commissioner Mick Keelty

supply a range of dried fruits to

took up his post as interim inspector-

Woolworths – a great collaboration

general of Murray Darling Basin Water

for our businesses.”

Resources, with five investigators

The two businesses visited the farms together and spoke openly about the big issues growers are

to prepare a report on the water licensing regulations to be completed by end of 2020.

facing, especially with irrigation

Valentina said the ongoing water

considerations high on the priority list

issues highlighted the need for

and new labour laws now in effect in

investment in improved irrigation and

Victorian growing areas.

water management.

which covers some 2700 square

To better understand these critical

“Australia has the best dried vine fruit

kilometres of farmland, crossing the

issues, MRO and Woolworths met

in the world, and it is crucial that we

states of New South Wales, Victoria

with Federal Member for Mallee Anne

continue to invest in the industry as

and South Australia.

Webster. Anne highlighted the new

it will be a core driver of our future

Victoria-only labour laws that will be

growth,” she said.

The Woolworths Food Co team visited MRO’s agricultural footprint in the fertile growing area of the Mallee,

MRO chief executive Valentina Tripp said it was an exciting opportunity for the region to welcome Australia’s largest retailer and learn more about the innovative practices that continue

policed for seasonal contract labour again this year and a new increased pay structure that will be applied for these workers.

to ensure the crops yield well and

MRO and Woolworths are committed

remain competitive on the domestic

to ensuring their organisations remain

and international markets.

compliant and workers are paid fairly,

“As the largest grower of organic vine fruit in Sunraysia, Murray River Organics was proud to

even more so considering the current unprecedented climate brought on by COVID-19.

showcase the region to Woolworths,

Valentina said one of the biggest

and both parties agreed there is

areas of concern was the rising cost of

great potential for further strategic

water for irrigation, which increased

partnerships to blossom in 2020 a

from $500 up to $995 per megalitre

nd beyond,” Valentina said.

last year.

“That means exploring innovative ag-tech systems, including irrigation infrastructure and on-farm practices. “MRO supports investment in research and development that will enhance our growers’ abilities to continue to innovate with new techniques, products and farming systems. “Ensuring MRO is well equipped to supply world-class, high value-added retail products to our strategic partners, like Woolworths, will keep our regions and communities strong and profitable long into the future.” v Grower enquiries: Valentina Tripp 0414550337 Left: Staff from Woolworths and Murray River Organics explore organic farms and processing facilities in the Sunraysia region.



Marketing A DA P TS A M I D C OV I D - 1 9

Table grape marketing approaches have evolved to suit an ever-changing media landscape. In the wake of COVID-19 coverage, with memes and #stayathome content driving social media engagement, cut-through has never been more challenging, both in Australia and around the world.

Australia Domestic table grape marketing efforts have adapted to improve content cut-through. Social media posts targeted wholefamily consumption, promoting health benefits and recipe options for table grapes, with mentions of “WFH” (work from home) referencing the current lifestyle. Recent Nielsen data reported fresh fruit volume sales at 22 March 2020 were down for the four weeks prior, with consumer purchasing behaviour orientated toward fruit and vegetables with greater shelf life. Taste Australia engaged chef partner Elena Duggan to do a series of cook-along videos while Community News Group – which publishes 11 newspapers with a total combined reach of 288,093 – shared one of the

table grape recipes Elena has created. Elena’s chicken schnitzel and grapeslaw recipe received more than 1500 “likes” on Instagram, with families moved to recreate the recipe themselves at home.

Global Movement restrictions impacted countries differently, with the infiltration of Australian table grape marketing efforts varying. Hort Innovation international brand manager Laura Davies consulted with key exporters and market partners Austrade to develop tailored marketing campaigns for selected markets influenced by COVID-19. Marketing efforts have focused on consumers’ desire for immuneboosting foods, positioning Australian table grapes as a healthy addition to consumers’ diets by promoting their superfood status and nutritional value. A variety of online and offline activities in store, on TV shopping networks, traditional and social media – including through influencers – have been utilised. In store, posters, shelf wobblers, buntings and in-store TV are displayed. A Taste Australia video interview with Jeff Scott promotes Australian table grapes, while gifts-with-purchase – such as bottles, face masks and hand sanitiser with iconic Australian animals – provide incentives. Media outreach, to traditional and social media influencers, included table grape gift baskets with key messaging. In Korea, early infiltration of the virus led to delayed promotion, but sales have been strong. Retail strength continues, and imports more than doubled since last year – approximately 450 containers.

strict enhanced community quarantine guidelines. This presented its own challenges, with supermarkets and retailers operating at reduced administrative workforce and movement of goods impacted by a delay in customs processing. Thailand began lifting restrictions after a steady decline in coronavirus infections earlier this month. Retailer activity kicked off quickly, with in-store point of sale materials and merchandising promoting table grapes. Taste Australia worked with Tesco to support a major promotion of table grapes which was rolled out over 1800 stores and saw promotions such as gift-with-purchase. The retail landscape in China, since movement restrictions lifted, has seen supermarkets remain open and sampling in-stores continue. The quality of grapes coming into China varied from last year, with reports of discolouration, brown stems and smaller Autumn Crisp sizing. COVID-19’s impact on global trade, and political factors, created a restricted environment for the access of Australian table grapes into Indonesia. This dramatically reduced the volume of product entering the market and thus shifted the opportunity for promotion to social media. Despite the changing environment, an opportunity to drive awareness of Taste Australia and Australian table grapes in the Indonesian market still lies in social media. Efforts will continue over the following months and Hort Innovation is currently building a plan for marketing in a postCOVID-19 world. v Left: Instagram post of Elena Duggan cooking a table grape recipe.

The Philippines government enacted



Righting the wrongs OF S U N RAYS I A S U LTA N A’ S C O N F U S I N G H I STO RY

The story of the Sunraysia region’s world-renowned sultanas is steeped in so much published folklore that it’s hard to sort fact from fiction, writes Jennifer Douglas for ABC Mildura-Swan Hill. But now, after years of research,

Nickolaos Kolios for the formula. Local Greek historian Paul Nicolias said the formula for the cold-dipping process was a revolutionary turning point for the Sunraysia dried fruit industry, enabling it to dominate the world’s dried fruit market for a century. But now it is being argued that Alex Zimaris should be credited for the

The growers were using a hot-dip method that only produced threecrown sultanas that were considered inferior to that of the golden Turkish Smyrna five-crown sultanas that were highly sought after in England and Europe. The Australian hot-dip method for drying the grapes, using caustic soda, produced small dark sultanas with leathery skins.

historians have unravelled the truth.

formula after he worked on the

For nearly 100 years, the region in

many demonstrations undertaken

Mr Zimaris and his fellow Greeks, who

by the ADFA (Australian Dried Fruit

didn’t speak English, demonstrated

Association) from 1924.

the cold-dip method to the ADFA

northern Victoria has been renowned for its five-crown golden sultanas. However, doubt has lingered over who should be credited for the good fortunes of the famous “Sunraysia sultana”. Even the local council plaque commemorating the beginnings of local sultana production has it wrong. The tale dates back to the early 1920s when local grape growers started using a new secret cold-dip formula to dry their sultanas, replacing the traditional hot-dip method.

Mr Zimaris was one of four Greeks who came to pick fruit in Mildura after

growers in 1924 with the help of a translator named Nickolaos Kolios.

deserting Turkish military service in

Mr Kolios was a highly educated man

the sultana growing area of Smyrna in

who was able to convey the process

Asia Minor.

of Mr Zimari’s cold-dip formula to

They found work in the irrigation

ADFA’s growers and acted as the

colony and soldier settlement of

spokesperson for the Greeks.

Mildura in 1923 and 1924, picking

Mr Kolios was also quoted in several

grapes for Mildura dried fruit

published articles, leading many to

grower Les Mansell.

believe that he was the person behind

Sultanas highly sought after

the cold-dip formula. He also boasted in letters to his family

It was at that time, that Mr Zimaris

in Greece that he was instrumental in

The official plaque credits former

noticed the Aussies were not

leading the Greek syndicate to build a

banker and Greek translator

getting it right.

successful sultana farm.



Sadly, due to his position as translator interpreting Mr Zimaris’s practical demonstrations, Mr Kolios has been recorded as the man who changed the fortunes of the Sunraysia sultana in the official version of history. It was this newspaper article that was also the source of the original confusion when it named the translator, Mr Kolios, as the expert of the cold-dip method misrepresenting this important historical event of the time for another 100 years.

their very first harvest. This dramatically changed the success of the entire local industry, especially

Then it was Mr Zimaris and the Greek refugees who helped share this technique to the ADFA growers.

for the returned soldiers and their

“Changing recorded history is a

families who could now compete on

complicated task that may take

the international dried fruit market.

several more years.” Ms Petschel said.

“Soldiers were able to enter the

Ms Cook said, “unfortunately, the

international market from their first

correct history isn’t always as

harvest using the five-crown method,

interesting as the folklore”.

dramatically changing their financial

They are attempting to correct

circumstance for the better,” historian

the official history and have a new

Helen Petschel said.

commemorative plaque installed at

“The soldiers, after working so hard to

the Mildura Riverfront.

Who was the first to use the cold-dip method?

cut out a farm from the Mallee scrub

“I’d like to see the historical

in post-war life, were able to enjoy

monument located at the riverfront

success from their very first harvest

changed to recognise Mr Alex Zimaris

The correct version of history is

using the cold-dip method.

for changing the course of Sunraysia’s

confirmed in the Journal of Agriculture published in December 1925, but it also raised another conundrum that the cold-dip method had already been trialled some 30 years earlier in 1898 by a Sunraysia grower Mr J.J. Keil, who bought the cold-dip formula from another Greek, John Zeroothakis Esq.

But the inconsistencies in the humble

history,” Paul Nicolias said. v

sultana’s history do not end there.

So how did historians get it so wrong until now? Historians Christine Cook and Helen Petschel from the Red Cliffs

Unfortunately, the cold-dip method

Historical Society were able to

at this time was superseded by the

confirm that the application of the

hot-dip method that provided more

cold-dip method was first recorded as

rapid processing.

being trialled in 1898, by Mr J.J. Keil.

By 1925 most of the ADFA growers

However it wasn’t until the 1920s

were moving to the cold-dip method,

when there was a real need for a

and many WWI soldier-settler growers

change in the product that it

began using the cold-dip method from

was revisited.

Opposite page: Left: Original advertising for Mildura’s famous dried fruit. (Supplied - Red Cliffs Historical Society) Right: Old and new methods of drying currants and raisins, Mildura. (Supplied - John Young Collection) This page: Left: Descendants of Mr Alex Zimaris who came to pick fruit in Mildura after deserting Turkish military service in the sultana growing area of Syrmna in Asia Minor. (Supplied - Zimaris Family) Right: Prior to this, Mildura’s dried fruit growers were using a hot dip of caustic potash, that produced small dark sultanas with leathery skins. (Supplied - Red Cliffs Historical Society)



Smart phone farming There are countless mobile apps available on the market to help you farm smarter and do your job more efficiently. We have rounded up nine of the most useful ones, as recommended by those working in the field. They are all free to download from Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Some include premium versions or in-app purchases. Though not on the list, some general apps are also worth a mention as they have practical on-farm applications. Grape growers like these ones in particular: GPS Fields Area Measure, SpeedView: GPS Speedometer for recording tractor speed and operations, Notes for jotting things down in the field, Spotify for music and podcasts, and Messenger for communicating with other growers and employees. v

BOM Water Storage

Water Market Watch

YR Weather

From the Bureau of Meteorology, this app lets users compare water levels and volumes for more than 300 publicly owned lakes, reservoirs and weirs around Australia.

Growers can stay up to date with the Victorian water market with this app, developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Everyone has a favourite weather app! BOM, Weatherzone and Elders are some of the most popular among growers. But this app, developed by the Norwegian Meterological Institute, is a little different.

It provides daily updates on how much water is available in most urban and rural regions.


It shows current Victorian Water Register data about seasonal determinations, trade limits, spill determinations and allocation market price. Users can set up notifications for the topics they’re interested in.

You can scroll through an animated sky to see weather changes, or view forecasts in table or graph form.


Weed ID

NSW WeedWise

Based on the Encyclopaedia of Arable Weeds, the BASF Weed ID app provides an easy-to-use reference guide to 140 species of broad-leaved weeds and grassweeds.

Developed by the Department of Primary Industries, this app contains more than 300 weed profiles.

It offers a full description and pictures of each species, a weed mapping tool, and image comparison with the user’s own photographs.

Users can search or browse weed names, recognise a weed by its description and image gallery, learn about its impacts, share the information, and report sightings. Control options, including registered herbicides, are described for each weed.

PMapp & Grape Assess PMapp was developed by University of Adelaide researchers and collaborators to help the grape industry assess the visual severity of powdery mildew on the surface of grape bunches. Grape Assess is an expansion of PMapp, facilitating the assessment of multiple grapevine diseases and disorders including bunch rot, downy mildew, insect damage, sunburn and powdery mildew.

Farm Service Manager

ATGA MRLs Search

AWRI Agrochemical Search

Created by farmers for farmers, this app provides a simple way for businesses to manage the service and maintenance of all their machinery and vehicles.

This app provides real-time information on withholding periods and maximum residue limits (MRLs) for both domestic and export markets.

Information about agrochemicals, published annually by the Australian Wine Research Institute in the “Dog Book”, is included in this app.

The subscription service is designed for single owner operators to large corporate farms, allowing users to build service histories, set service reminders, and export and share records.

Growers can use the app both online or offline to search pre- and post-harvest chemical application data by target market, target pest or disease,

It allows Australian grape growers to quickly identify the preferred agrochemical for use in the production of grapes for export wine and any restrictions on their use.

and active constituent.



Profile Luke Lory

With a passion for learning and innovation, dried grape grower Luke Lory is stepping up as an industry leader.

Luke is currently completing a

helped us to cut costs. I feel that the

Diploma in Dried Fruit Production

innovation of Ivan Shaw’s swingarm

Horticulture through SuniTAFE and

trellis has given us the most capable

regularly visits Mildura for industry

production system in use, particularly

events. He is keen to help grow and

with our unpredictable weather

Luke is the newest producer member

further mechanise the industry as part

during drying.

of the Dried Fruits Australia (DFA)

of his new role on the DFA board.

board, elected to the position at the October 2019 annual general meeting. Luke’s parents, John and Jennie, began growing grapes in Loxton, South Australia in 2005, soon after

How long have you been in the industry?

Where do you see the industry going? The Australian industry produces a quality product and has a great

Full time for 10 years and part time

reputation, but we face the challenges

before that for another six.

of shrinking industry size and high labour costs. I am confident

emigrating to Australia from England.

Is your family involved too?

As relative newcomers to the industry,

Yes, I’m in a family business. We

by innovation and increased

diversified from wine grapes into

mechanisation, particularly during

currants in 2005 and now have about

pruning. Our labour costs are massive

40 hectares of dried grapes, including

compared to our competing countries

Carina currants, Sunmuscat and

and I think mechanising is the only



machinery and has even built their

What do you love about the dried

Is there anything new or innovative

own trellis system, which has been

grape industry?

that you are doing on the block or in

the Lorys decided to plant some of the best performing varieties while using modern production systems and experimenting with new ideas. The family makes a lot of their own

trialled and refined over the past eight years. They were awarded a DFA Innovation Grant in late 2017 to help with the development of the trellis, which is designed to reduce labour input and facilitate more mechanisation. Luke has been working full time at the Loxton farm for 10 years now.

The openness of the industry and

your business?

the willingness of growers to help

Our trellis design has allowed us to

each other with advice is great. We

trap shorter canes than we can with

have always enjoyed being part of an

swingarm, we can summer prune at

industry like that and have definitely

much higher speeds, and we’re having

benefited from it.

some success with our mechanical

How have things changed over

winter pruning trials. v

the years?

Before that, he worked in the business

We’ve improved a lot from when we

part time while he was studying and

started! We’ve increased our yields

travelling back and forth to England to

with better nutrition, while using

work at his uncle’s farm.

swingarm and our own trellises has


these problems can be countered

Above: Luke Lory with his parents, John and Jennie, at their Loxton property.


Industry events Dried Fruits Australia’s 10 Tonne Project advisory group visited all four “proof of concept” sites in January this year to consult with site managers on best practice. Established at Merbein, Red Cliffs and Colignan, the sites will demonstrate how to consistently achieve 10 tonnes per hectare across a range of vineyard sizes and production years. Left: DFA field officer Stuart Putland and demonstration site manager Stephen Bennett inspecting the in-canopy microclimate and irrigation pressure monitoring systems. Right: The technical advisory team touring one of the demonstration sites.

ATGA held two grower forums on Grapevine Pinot gris virus on 8 and 9 January. Agriculture Victoria’s Dr Fiona Constable and the Australian Wine Research Institute’s Dr Mardi Longbottom presented at the forums in Robinvale and Irymple, with growers and industry representatives attending.


Mark King (Chair) Producer, Pomona

David Swain Sunbeam Foods

Tony Martin (Deputy Chair)

Grant Leyden Sunbeam Foods

Producer, Merbein

Craig Greenwood

Jenny Treeby Producer, Red Cliffs

Australian Premium Dried Fruits

Stephen Bennett Producer, Merbein

Michael Scalzo

Warren Lloyd Producer, Irymple

Australian Premium Dried Fruits

Luke Lory Producer, Loxton

Valentina Tripp Murray River Organics

Ashley Johnstone Producer, Irymple John Argiro (Chair), Victoria

Adrian Cordoma Victoria

Jeremy Boyd (Deputy chair), Victoria

Anthony Cirillo Victoria

Vince Dimasi (Executive delegate), Victoria

Joe Gareffa New South Wales

Richard Lomman (Executive delegate),

Peter Nuich Western Australia

Northern Territory

Mark Leng Queensland

David Agg South Australia


Nick Muraca Victoria Rocky Mammone Victoria

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Introducing a new level of confidence in DMI’s New Belanty fungicide gives you a new level of confidence in the control of powdery mildew in grapes. Setting a new global standard for DMI’s, Belanty provides up to 100 times stronger enzyme binding than other DMI’s and is able to control resistant target disease populations. After years of research, Belanty is the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for.

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