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Sub-tropical horticulture research blooms at DPIRD field day

The latest developments in fruit and vegetable research was showcased at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) Carnarvon Research Facility field day.

The research facility, which has been significantly refurbished in the past year and boosted by several new scientific recruits, hosted a gathering of about 60 growers who received an update on range of projects with local producers and industry stakeholders.

DPIRD Carnarvon development officer Annie van Blommestein said growers were able to see first hand the vegetable trials in the Cravo retractable roof greenhouse, which is aiding a range of research priorities.

“The researchers are examining how the Cravo greenhouse can be used to optimise production of tomatoes, capsicums and zucchinis, which are the main vegetable crops grown in the district,” Ms van Blommestein said.

“The roof of the structure can be left open to take full advantage of the sun and shut when there is heat stress, rainfall, high pest pressures and low temperatures to protect the plants.

“The research will provide an insight into the potential yields and quality, as well as pest and disease pressures on the crops.

“It will also be interesting to determine if insect pollinators enter the structure and effectively fertilise crops that require crosspollination.”

An eggplant trial that is evaluating three different shade levels under a net house was also profiled at the field day.

Ms van Blommestein said eggplants were grown widely in Carnarvon and the results from the trial could be transferred to a large proportion of other crops grown in the area.

“The research is assessing the impact of 10, 20 and 30 per cent shade, with one replicate outside for control,” she said.

“This research will provide a better understanding of the physiological responses of different varieties growing under different conditions and how shading affects growth, water use efficiency, yield and quality.”

The field day also showcased a collaborative variety trial demonstration between DPIRD and eight seed companies, which allowed growers to view new and emerging genetic material suitable for the Carnarvon environment.

The field demonstration includes 121 tomato varieties, 78 capsicum varieties and 22 zucchini varieties.

A high density mango trial, which has been trained to encourage growth for trellis systems, was also included on the field day program.

“Three mango varieties are being examined, which have been planted at a spacing of three metres between trees and five or six metres between rows, with one trial inside the net house under 10 per cent shade and the other outside,” Ms van Blommestein said.

“The researchers are examining the suitability of high density plantings to the Carnarvon environment to determine the benefits and opportunities associated with this potentially highly productive cultivation system.”

The field day also welcomed students from Carnarvon Community College, which has been running practical classes at the station in association with the Department of Training and Workforce Development and the Department of Education.

“This is a terrific program, which has provided the participating TAFE and Plant Production Systems students with hands-on experience, while learning about crop agronomy, marketing and business systems, with support from DPIRD’s PRIMED education initiative,” Ms van Blommestein said.

“It was great to have the group there at the field day and learn from our researchers, as well as get an insight into growers’ feedback and observations about the trials.”

Other research toured at the field day included trials of citrus, grains, forestry products and a sterile Leucaena trial.

For more information about DPIRD’s Carnarvon Research Facility, visit the department’s website.

Featured Image: The DPIRD horticulture team of Amy Miner, Annie van Blommestein, Jacky Price, Dr Valeria Lima, Dr Dario Stephanelli, Rohan Prince, James Barr and Giao Nguyen showcased the department’s field trials and more at its recent Carnarvon Research Facility field day.

Source: WA DPIRD

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