31 January 2024

Variety evaluation project extended

Dave Monks of NSW DPI provides an update on the Citrus Levy-funded Evaluation of New Citrus Varieties project (CT22000).

On the back of sustained industry support, the levy-funded Evaluation of New Citrus Varieties project (CT22000) has been renewed for another five years.   

For over a quarter of a century, the project has provided independent evaluations of new citrus varieties for industry to make informed business decisions. 

More than 1,000 citrus growers have engaged with the project over the last five years. 

The latest re-contracting has seen the formal inclusion of the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries as a project partner, alongside the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI).  

The West Australian department has been a strong supporter of the project for many years, with growers in the state receiving ongoing exposure to new varieties through Kevin Lacey’s demonstration sites, generously hosted on properties in Harvey, Moora and West Gingin.   

The project team evaluates new varieties imported from international breeding and selection programs, along with varieties bred here in Australia or found as chance seedlings through natural, or induced, mutations.  

Most international varieties are represented in Australia by third-party variety managers, who look after the rights of the owner for evaluation or commercialisation purposes. A few new varieties are still available without commercial rights (royalties and per-tree fees) but that number has dropped dramatically over the last 15 years, as successful new private varieties have become ‘big business’.   

Six new varieties were received by the project team based at the NSW DPI’s research station in Dareton, Sunraysia, over the 2022/23 season. These varieties were grafted to a range of new rootstocks in a hothouse. These varies are the Bingo, HBI12, CB Murcott, Premier and 15C001 mandarins, along with the Rusty orange.   

In the same period, ten varieties were grafted, or re-grafted, to a range of rootstocks with a Valencia orange interstock in the field.  Of those, one lemon and five mandarins were grafted for the first time. They are the BA0001 lemon, and the HBI01, HBI02, HBI05, UF Sunrise and Shiranui mandarins. 

The Lloyd Ultra Late Cara Cara orange and the UF900, UF950 and Seedless Snack mandarins had additional grafts made.  

In the same period (2022/23 season), 13 new varieties have been planted out in the field on a range of new and appropriate rootstocks for evaluation of fruit production and early observations of graft union compatibility. These include the BA0001 lemon, the Cambria orange, and the Shiranui, HBI01, HBI02, HBI05, HBI06, Kinnow LS, Daisy LS, UF Sunrise, Seedless Snack, UF900 and UF950 mandarins.  

The latest group of varieties introduced on the West Australian evaluation sites include the Honey Bee, HBI01, HBI02, HBI05 and HBI06 mandarins, the Lloyd Ultra Late Cara Cara navel and the DV Valencia orange.   

All varieties in the program, new or old, can be viewed by appointment.  

There are currently more than 40 information sheets available on the NSW DPI website outlining the performance of modern varieties grown at the Dareton research station. Navigate to ‘Rootstocks and Varieties’ via this link: https://bit.ly/3RyxUNt

This article was written by Dave Monks, a Research Horticulturist with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.
The Evaluation of New Citrus Varieties project (CT22000) has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the citrus research and development levy, contributions from the Australian Government and co-investment from New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
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