$70k research grant for Adelaide Hills fruit growers

General March 18, 2020

A groundbreaking research project into the recovery of fruit trees following bushfires has been launched in the Adelaide Hills.

South Australia’s Apple and Pear Growers Association has been awarded a $70,000 State government grant to conduct research on the impact of bushfires on SA’s horticulture industry.

Six apple and cherry orchids in Lenswood, Woodside, Lobethal and Cudlee Creek were impacted by the December 20 fires, which destroyed $7.5 million worth of fruit and infrastructure.

Apple and Pear Growers Association CEO Susie Green said growers currently relied on advice from overseas fruit growers, making the research a vital undertaking for producers all across Australia.

“Around 25ha were lost during the fire, which is a lot when you consider it costs around $300,000 for 1ha of fruit trees to be set up,” she said.

“On top of that, it may take a year or two for a tree to grow once planted, and another five till it produces apples.

“So what we need to work out is whether we should give trees the chance to regenerate to whether it’s best to bulldoze and start from scratch.”

Ms Green said research data would be collected over the next two years and shared through the South Australian Research and Development Institute.

“This is why it’s a good opportunity for us to learn more about the impact of bushfires, so that we’re better informed if it happens again in the future.”

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone, who announced the grant last week, said the research project would assist fire-affected producers make better informed decisions.

“Following the devastating bushfires through the Adelaide Hills, many primary producers are faced with long-term recovery and critical decisions about the future of their business,” he said.

“We want to give those growers as much data as possible about the impact of the fire on their fruit trees.”

“The last major fire we had was Ash Wednesday, so it’s been a while since producers have lost fruit this way,” she said.

Source: The Advertiser

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