Virtual mango researchers meeting

Cameron McConchie, Research Leader, Darwin

An inaugural virtual meeting was held at Berrimah Research Farm on 29 July to share with mango growers the latest in mango research and development. Using the virtual meeting format, DPIR was able to host presentations from NSW and QLD, and have the presenters listen in and respond to questions. These facilities are also installed at Katherine Research Station and the Arid Zone Research Institute. Any participant with a good internet connection can log into the department’s virtual meeting rooms. The virtual meeting enabled interstate researchers who are working on cross commodity projects, to update local mango growers on progress without physically travelling to the Northern Territory.

Dr John Wilkie, Department of Primary Industries NSW, presented his work on planting density, investigating the relationship between flowering intensity and crop load, and development of improved rootstocks.

Prof Andrew Robson, University of New England, and Prof Kerry Walsh, Central Queensland University, who are both involved in a national tree mapping project supported by Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA), introduced the use of satellite and ground-based data collection to understand tree health and to measure crop load. Kerry also described the development of the F-750 Produce Quality Meter by Felix Instruments, to non-destructively monitor mango dry matter in ripe fruit. This had previously been restricted to hard green mangoes. These developments will be used to support the 2016 maturity standards recently released by the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA).

Trevor Dunmall, AMIA, described the processes for accessing new mango cultivars and the upcoming pre-harvest meetings in the NT. He also told the group about the appointment of Jessica Harding as the new Supply and Communications Manager at AMIA and the training available for growers wanting to be involved in mango exports.

Ian Smith, NT Department of Land Resource Management, gave a presentation on the changes to water licensing in the Darwin rural area. Greg Owens, NT Farmers Association, offered to assist any growers who may have difficulties with the documentation.

Our department researchers from the Plant Industries Development group (PID) gave an overview of the exceptionally warm weather conditions this year in Darwin, with night temperatures not dropping below 20°C until 20 July. These conditions were ideal for testing the capacity of chemicals to induce flowering in mangoes under non-inductive conditions. They also emphasised the warning of an early Wet, allowing mango growers time to apply their protective sprays and for chemical providers to have the products in stock.

Dr Cameron McConchie using a backpack mist sprayer to test products for effectiveness to induce flowering in non-inductive conditions

(above) Dr Cameron McConchie using a backpack mist sprayer to test products for effectiveness to induce flowering in non-inductive conditions

Dr Mila Bristow introduced a new project that aims to better understand the role of nitrogen in mangoes and improve profitability, while Dr Brian Thistleton updated the progress of research on fruit fly and other insect pests of mango. Dr Tony Asis introduced the concepts of using ionomics to diagnose the nutritional status of mango trees and provided an example of how this may be applied to resin canal discoloration studies.

Bob Williams, Director of PID, explained changes in funding opportunities from HIA and updated the progress of the Northern Australia Cooperative Research Centre. He also introduced the other national research programs and international aid programs that could assist our local industries.

Finally, Jenny Hill from the DPIR Market and Enterprise Development group, described how they had been working with the AMIA to facilitate market access and reduce maximum residue limits for the fungicide Scholar® (by Syngenta, active ingredient: Fludioxonil) into a range of markets. She clarified import quotas and analysed international export trends.

The use of the virtual meeting format proved the versatility of the system and the department intends to use these facilities more extensively in the future.

The presentations from the day are available on the NT Farmers website.

Last updated: 23 September 2016