Researchers at The University of Western Australia will conduct a $833,000 project aimed at future-proofing the State's $24 million table grape industry.
The research will investigate the impact of climate on the development cycle of table grapes and other temperate crops in WA. The $583,000 funding from the Australian Research Council's Linkage Project was matched by $250,000 from research partners the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) and the Gascoyne Table Grape Growers Association.
Dr Michael Considine, from UWA's School of Plant Biology and Professor Jim Whelan, from the ARC Centre of Excellence, Plant Energy Biology, based at UWA, are carrying out the research with Mr Colin Gordon, from DAFWA, with essential support from growers from the Gascoyne Table Grape Growers Association. The grant will also support two PhD students.
Dr Considine said fruit crops, including table grapes, required intensive management and while agronomists had spent many years researching and developing techniques to improve these crops, production remained variable due to a lack of knowledge of how climate affected the development cycle, particularly flowering, that was needed to produce fruit.
"What we're aiming to do is carry out basic research that will help growers achieve consistent production and expansion of table grapes and other temperate crop industries," he said.
"There are vast opportunities in exploring and maximising crop production in more tropical latitudes because of the premium price afforded for early-to-market fresh food.
"But many fruit crops, such as table grapes, have a temperate origin and don't receive the right climate signals to coordinate and complete fruit production. Our research will identify regulators of those signals and lead towards better management practices to ensure industry viability and growth. This may also be important if climate warming trends continue."
The funding was part of more than $2.1 million in total for UWA projects announced last month by Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the latest funding allocation would ensure research at the University continued to advance important benefits for both the national and international community. For further information visit: http://www.arc.gov.au/