By Tegan Kukulies
The NextGen banana growers group have kicked off 2018 with a field walk through two field trials which were planted in late 2017 at the South Johnstone DAF research station.
Members of the group were able to see first-hand the 600 Goldfinger plants which have been mutated in an attempt to improve fruit quality characteristics while retaining resistance to Panama disease Tropical Race 4.
Although the plants have not yet bunched, Jeff Daniells from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries was able to show the group some obvious differences in plant stature, leaf arrangement, and pigments in the plants.
He discussed what strategies are being considered and trialled to assess the fruit quality and also what the future plans are to then screen promising candidates for Panama disease Tropical Race 4.
The group was keen to see how the trial progresses and interested in how the promising candidates would perform in subsequent ratoon crops.
The second trial the group looked at was what is termed the innovation trial which is initially looking at ‘out of the box’ ground cover management options including pinto peanut, a weed mat, a chemical stabiliser product and mint.
The trial is overlayed with two de-suckering treatments: one where the first flush of suckers was removed three months after planting and another where sucker selection will occur at a later date.
During the field walk the group got to see two plants which had been dug up, washed and their roots removed to demonstrate the connection of suckers to tissue culture plants following the two different desuckering treatments. (See photo).
The idea is that over the next few months, four more plants (2 of each different desuckering treatments) will be subsequently dug up to assess what is happening under the ground.
The group was impressed with the performance of the plants in the block to date, and are interested in seeing if and how the ground cover treatments affect the
agronomics of the plants.
The group is looking towards the end of the year and considering what opportunities there are for a larger activity similar to the trips which were organised to Darwin in 2017 and Bowen in 2016.
If you have any ideas of what you would be interested in participating in or would like to get involved in the NextGen group contact Tegan Kukulies from DAF on 07 4220 4152.