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A new national research project is currently underway, aiming to deliver practical management options to horticultural industries recovering from bushfires.

Funded by Hort Innovation in partnership with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, the five-year project – Developing management strategies to enhance the recovery of horticulture from bushfires – will assess short and long-term effects of bushfires in apple orchards and other tree crops in NSW and South Australia.

Hort Innovation Research and Development Manager Adrian Hunt said the project aims to equip growers with tools to deal with the impacts of a bushfire on their crops.

“Researchers are examining the effects of fire damage to trees and fruit quality, to ensure growers can confidently and effectively respond to future fire events,” he said.

“It’s about the ability of businesses to bounce back, address any direct effect from fire damage and return to production of quality fruit as soon as possible.”

Research and demonstration sites have been established in Batlow, Bilpin and the Adelaide Hills, areas which were directly affected by bushfire in the summer of 2019-2020.

NSW Department of Primary Industries Project Leader Bruno Holzapfel said understanding responses of fruit and trees to fire is essential to inform decisions on the best recovery options.

“Findings from these studies will be used to develop management options which are applicable to a full range of perennial horticultural crops,” he said.

“We aim to develop guidelines which growers can use to apply the right management options to achieve full production levels and meet quality standards, as soon as possible after fire.

“Growers know that the decision to retain, renovate or replant can have long lasting impacts on their production efficiencies.”

The AOA is liaising with the project researchers, and has provided information on post-bushfire management practices being undertaken in olive groves also affected by the 2019-2020 fires.

Look for a progress report on the research in the December edition of R&D Insightst, published in the Olivegrower & Processor industry journal and also available on the OliveBiz website.