Home' Grower : Dec 2012 - Jan 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- December 2012/January 2013
Researchers get lowdown
on hot climate orchards
By MALCOLM SUTTON
AGROUP of agricultural sci-
Australia were given a crash
course on growing apples in the
Mallee recently during a work-
shop on climate adaptation.
The 16 participants from the
Australia-wide Primar y Industries
Adaptation Research Network
Master Class spent three days trav-
elling to locations in the Barossa,
Riverland, Mallee and Virginia
Plains to visit a selection of growers
at the forefront of water use inno-
vation and dryland adaptation.
Joysons Orchard Murbko man-
ager Matthew Green talked them
through a 90-hectare set-up that
requires about 10 megalitres/ha
of irrigation from the river each
"We induce our own microcli-
mate and get humidity from the
sprinkler system and from having
the green cover, which creates an
organic turnover," he said.
"We grow a lucerne cover crop
and increase the humus level by
continuously recycling our mow-
The trees have adapted to the
warmer climate and the fruit has
developed higher resilience to
sunburn -- encouraged through
pruning and tree architecture to
keep it consistently exposed to
heat -- so much so it has devel-
oped stronger resilience to sun-
burn than Joysons' apple orchard
near Mount Gambier.
During the hotter parts of sum-
mer, when temperature rise above
36C degrees, trees are pulse-irri-
gated to keep peak temperatures
out of the orchard. "As an apple
grower, you need temperature
change through the night and
day, and that's what gives you
your colour and crispness," Mr
Pulse irrigation is sometimes
undertaken on hotter nights as a
form of evaporative cooling to try
and take the peaks and troughs
out of the extreme weather.
While more irrigation is
required, the semi-arid environ-
ment reduces reliance on chemi-
cals to address fungal problems,
and cuts down costs.
The orchard requires spraying to
shut down and wake the trees up
for winter dormancy, but given
the heat, the new season's fruit is
ready for har vest six weeks before
the general apple market.
Mr Green says the apple orchard
is pushing the limits on how far
north apples can be grown in SA.
"I don't think you would want
to go any further north," he said.
"There was an orchard at
Medindie Lakes in New South
Wales that was doing the same
thing as us with Pink Ladies and
Galas, but they ended up pulling
the whole thing out because it was
too extreme. It was too hot
through the nights and too hot
through the days.
"We're lucky here because we're
right on the edge of where you
want to be with temperature
During their three-day tour, the
team also visited Nuriootpa
Sation, St Halletts Winery,
Tanunda; Yalumba Heggies
Vineyard, Eden Valley; Oxford
Landing Estate, Waikerie; the
Tanunda Community Wastewater
Treatment Plant, and DiVineRipe
glasshouse, Two Wells.
Participants were selected from a
wide range of applicants and
included government natural
resources staff from New South
Wales, Victoria, and SA;
Queensland Farmers Federation
staff, dairy producers, croppers,
veterinary officers, a New Zealand
student and a wine industry R&D
"Seeing things like apple
orchards in the Mallee is absolute-
ly remarkable," Brigid Morrison,
Tasmania Farmers and Graziers
"We have to take on board inno-
vation because we have to pay for
water as well."
The tour included a drive from
Keyneton where annual rainfall
levels differ from an average of
535 millimetres a year at 381
metres above sea level to Sedan,
which receives 305mm/yr at
about 95m above sea level -- a
striking difference in the short
space of 18 kilometres.
PIARN convenor and University
of Melbourne agricultural scien-
tist Snow Barlow said some of the
participants would not have seen
anything like it.
"Many of them haven't even
seen irrigated vineyards before,"
Prof Barlow said.
"We are trying to put in the con-
text an adaptation challenge for
South East Australia, and there's
no better way to look at that than
follow that rainfall change from
the Barossa through to
Blanchetown and then through to
Joysons Orchard Murbko manager Matthew Green says his company is
growing apples at the upper-most limit of hot climatic conditions.
Fewer pests with desert
Earlier harvest opportunities
Winter dormancy needs
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Andrew 0403 340 200 Peter 0417 803 537
EXTREME HEAT !
HOT WINDS !
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Help your VINES, TREE CROPS AND VEGETABLES overcome the
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