30 Oct 2013

Scientists redesigning orchards to increase fruit production

2:55 pm on 30 October 2013

Research that will literally shed more light on fruit trees could revolutionise the way crops such as apples are grown.

Plant and Food Research scientists are investigating new orchard planting systems, putting to the test the theory that trees and vines that receive more light could produce a lot more fruit.

Research leader Stuart Tustin says it could mean completely changing the way orchards are designed to allow more light to reach the trees' canopies.

He says if energy capture were to increase from 60% to 85% or 90% the productivity of apple orchards could double.

Mr Tustin says while the initial focus is on apples, the concept also applies to other crops such as stone fruit and kiwifruit.

Part of the research is developing new, dwarfed rootstocks to control the growth of the trees and channel more of the energy into fruit production.

Plant and Food Research has received Government funding of more than $8 million to support the six year programme.