Home' Grower : September 2011 Contents 18
The South Australian Grower – September 2011
Super fruit potential to boost production
❏ By ANGELA LUSH
GAC is a potential new superfruit that
has the highest known concentration
of carotenoids – a compound known
to promote good health.
Carotenoids, which are normally
obtained from tomatoes, are in heavy
demand locally and overseas as a
health supplement for prostate, heart
and eye health.
Gac has the potential to supply a
vast amount of carotenoids, with an
average fruit weight of 2 kilograms.
Each plant is capable of producing
up to 60 fruit.
Sophie Parks, from New South
Wales Department of Primary
Industries, is leading a research
project investigating the potential for
harnessing the health benefits of this
“The aril around the gac seed is a
potential source of carotenoids for
use in health supplements and as a
replacement for artificial food
colourings,” she said.
Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis),
also known as cochinchin gourd,
sweet gourd, spiny bitter gourd or
baby jack fruit, is native to Cape
York Peninsula in Queensland, South
East Asia and India. The fruit is
traditionally used in sticky rice
dishes, in Vietnam, and traditional
medicine in China.
“Our trials are looking at a range of
different production methods as well
as the cost-effectiveness of production
and post-harvest handling and
processing of fruits,” Dr Parks said.
Details: 02 4348 1914 or
Compost keeps disease in check
❏ By KAYLEE MAITLAND
THE benefits of compost for soil
health are well known, but its role in
suppression of plant disease has not
been as widely accepted.
According to research in New
South Wales, compost can suppress
all of the significant diseases
affecting vegetable production. In
some cases up to 90 per cent
disease suppression was achieved.
The research showed that adding
compost to soil could suppress wilts,
damping-off and stem and root rots.
The Australian compost industry is
now working towards using specific
inoculants in compost to combat
Compost suppresses plant diseases
in two main ways – by making
plants healthier and boosting
numbers of beneficial soil microbes.
Compost increases soil organic
matter, improves soil structure and
moisture retention and increases the
amount of nutrients available to
All of these changes encourage
healthier plants. And they are better
equipped to fight off diseases.
Compost boosts the populations of
naturally-occurring bacteria and
fungi that can suppress plant
pathogens. The wide range of
microbes in compost creates general
disease suppression with 90pc of
mature composts providing
suppression of root rots caused by
Pythium and Phytophthora species.
There can also be beneficial
microbes in compost that suppress
disease in specific ways, the most
common method being out-competing
plant pathogens for nutrients and
space in the root zone. This helps
prevent plant pathogens from
becoming established and building up
to levels that cause plant disease.
Some beneficial microbes can
produce antibodies and secretions
that inhibit the growth of plant
pathogens and others feed on the
pathogens. Other beneficial microbes
in compost can activate the defence
systems of plants, thickening cell
walls in roots and foliage and
making it more difficult for
pathogens to infect the plants.
Fusarium can be a significant
problem in vegetable crops, causing
root rot, stem rot and wilts.
Studies have shown that compost can
suppress Fusarium in a range of crops,
including tomato, cucumber, sugar beet,
potato and sweet basil.
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