New quality testing approach delivers more data
By Mara Milner
- 84% of citrus passed the quality standard in 2017
- 100% of Late Navels and Murcotts passed
- 2018 testing will start soon
This year has been the fifth consecutive running of the Australian Citrus Quality Standards (ACQS) program, with fruit tested grown in five states and taken from four market locations – Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
ACQS is a simple set of standards to assist growers, packers, marketers and retailers to consistently deliver quality citrus. Testing is conducted by third parties on behalf of Citrus Australia and takes place to monitor the performance of citrus businesses.
In 2017, we revised the testing and reporting procedure. Previously we collected juice from ten samples, combined the juice and sampled the homogenised juice to generate one result. We’ve now replaced this method to testing all ten fruit in the sample taken, then reported the average of the results to industry. This gave us a greater measure of the variability within a particular grower’s fruit.
This year, 84% of the reported fruit tested passed, maintaining the industry’s good performance over the last five years. There will always be variability and fluctuations in results depending on in-orchard and regional conditions.
The 2017 testing method produced tenfold more results and showed the variability across each sample over the season.
Of the varieties tested 76% of the samples could be categorised into one of six categories: Imperial, Afourer, Murcott, and Early, Winter and Late Navels.
The Winter and Late Navels performed exceptionally well achieving 95% and 100% compliance respectively, while the Early Navels were the category with the highest percentage of fruit that did not meet the standard. For the Early Navel category high acid levels were the cause and picking may have been too early.
For the Imperial samples, the Australian Citrus Standard was not met due to an imbalance between lower Brix and high acid results.
The actual (individual sample) data, showed 56% of the Imperial category and 78% of the Early Navel category truly did not meet the standard.
The ACQS program will continue for the 2018 season, replicating the 2017 method of sampling, testing and reporting. Independent grower reports showing the average and actual results for each sample tested will be available upon request to Citrus Australia.
Pre-harvest testing will be conducted by the Citrus Australia team starting in March 2018. Growers and packers can adopt the Citrus Australia ‘Pass to Pick’ program available on the website www.citrusaustralia.com.au. The program outlines the timing, sample number, method and test locations for your fruit.
Customer satisfaction and return sales rely on the quality of each fruit purchased. Maturity testing and harvest timing will minimise any lower quality fruit being presented for sale sustaining our commodity and industry.
Mara Milner, Citrus Quality & Market Information Officer, Citrus Australia Ltd: 0499 994 592 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This project was funded by Hort Innovation using the citrus research and development levy with contributions from the Australian Government.