In a bid to improve economic outcomes for Victoria's horticultural sector, and tackle the effects of climate change on deciduous fruit and nut crops, regional company InSense have been awarded A$49,000 as part of the Victorian Government's A$1 million Horticulture Innovation Fund.
InSense – based in Cobram located 246km north of Melbourne – have received the funding to conduct a feasibility study to determine if spraying calcium carbonate on cherry, apple and almond trees at leaf-fall increases winter chill accumulation by reflecting heat from the fruit buds during the winter.
Climate change and variability represents a major challenge for Victoria's deciduous fruit and nut crops as they need to accumulate sufficient chill, then a period of warmth, to enable normal fruit bud development, flowering and fruit set.
Launched in November 2015, the Horticulture Innovation Fund (HIF) provides grants of up to A$50,000 to help innovative Victorian businesses like InSense test and adapt new technologies and processes, boost exports into new markets and broaden the diversity of products overseas.
Victoria's horticultural sector covers a wide geographical spread and product range for consumers to enjoy around the world, in particular premium produce such as table grapes, citrus, summer-fruit, cherries, olives, almonds, apples and pears.
Almonds were Victoria's highest value horticulture export in 2013-14, and overall our horticulture industry is worth A$2.4 billion a year, underpinned by a world-class reputation for providing premium quality, safe and clean products – supported by complete traceability of our production and supply chain.