TASTEBUDS, not test tubes, have given the tick approval to the world's first Hass avocados produced by trees grafted on tissue culture plants
Trials in selected avocado-growing regions throughout Australia have highlighted the benefits of clonal tissue culture rootstocks in yielding high-quality fruit.
Avocado industry stakeholders and special guests were given a sample of the tissue culture-grown fruit in Brisbane this morning as part of the Hort Connections conference.
The tissue culture technology allows for up to 500 times more plants to be grown from a single cutting in 10-12 months - significantly reducing both resources required and the time it currently takes to produce a plant for sale in an orchard.
Economic modelling conducted by the University of Southern Queensland with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as part of the project suggests the tissue culture technology offers a potential 21 per cent return on investment to avocado growers.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Queensland-owned and invented technology platform has been validated from lab to orchard, and was now progressing to commercial roll out.
"Queensland produces the majority of Australia's avocados and this innovation offers opportunities for growers across the state," he said.
Director of University of Queensland's Centre for Horticultural Science Professor Neena Mitter said the research team has been successful in rooting multiple industry-relevant avocado rootstocks using meristem or plant stem cells-based approach to multiply plants..
In trials funded by the Queensland Government's Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships, tissue culture plants produced in a laboratory and then grafted with Australia's main avocado variety, Hass, have been successfully established in fields in Bundaberg, Tully and Lakeland and two locations in Western Australia - Pemberton and Busselton.
Childers avocado grower Lachlan Donovan has been growing laboratory-propagated avocado trees for the past three years and said that he was pleased with the tree growth and harvest.
"In the past the delay between ordering new trees and planting has been two to three years," Mr Donovan said.
"The biggest advantage of this new technology for us is to be able to get desired rootstocks and varieties into production quickly."
A survey of Australian avocado industry members undertaken by Central Queensland University indicated that 72pc cannot access enough plants and nearly half indicated they already have the skills and knowledge to work with tissue culture trees.
The global avocado market was valued at USD 9.14 billion in 2020, with consumers embracing the health benefits of the fruit, which contains fibre, healthy fats and important nutrients.
"This is a sustainable technology that reduces the need for water, fertilisers, pest management processes and farming land used to produce rootstocks," Professor Mitter said.
"With traditional avocado propagation, trees must be grown in fields for seed production.
"Another advantage with tissue culture propagation, particularly in this day and age, is that the movement of soil and the biosecurity risks this entails can be eliminated."
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