A number of pear varieties are being put through their paces as horticulture experts and researchers attempt to keep up with consumer demands in the lucrative Asian export market.
The project, which is jointly funded by Agriculture Victoria and the Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation sustainable agriculture fellowship program, will explore management systems for new pear cultivars.
The varieties have been specifically engineered to try and satisfy consumer demands, particularly in regards to sweetness, dry matter content, colour development and flesh firmness.
The study, which is being conducted by Agriculture Victoria research scientists and Italian research scientist Professor Luca Corelli-Grappadelli, has already seen research into pear varieties Deliza and Lanya, which are known for their desirable texture and ability to store well.
Mr Corelli-Grappadelli said researchers hoped to discover how the pear trees coped in the climate in an attempt to create best practice guidelines for a number of areas.
‘‘(The study) goes in the direction of showing ways of achieving high yields by not using so much water, which if (farmers) have to pay for the water, or they are on restrictions on the amount of water they have to use, this work will be relevant in those issues,’’ he said.
‘‘Under the constraints for water use that agriculture faces here, so many people want a share of the water and agriculture is less and less.
‘‘We can help them be water savvy.’’
Given the pears were new varieties, Mr Corelli-Grappadelli said it would take time to get used to it.
‘‘These are new animals, so more targetted work to provide specific knowledge for these varieties (is needed),’’ he said.
‘‘It’s really, for the grower, walking a tight line, and the more information he has, obviously the better it is.’’
Agriculture Victoria project leader Bruce Tomkins said the study could lead to a re-invigorated Victorian pear industry and increased demand.
‘‘It is anticipated the project will deliver more efficient pear production systems and will enable producers to produce fruit that meets consumer expectations, thereby driving increased demand both in domestic and Asian markets,’’ he said.