Work is progressing at the New South Wales-based variety trial site in Alstonville, with a slab marking the start of construction of a shed to be used for fruit processing and data collection.
The shed will be completed by the end of this month (August), with an irrigation system to follow. The new project will screen banana varieties for their resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense Race 1, as well as collect data associated with their agronomic characteristics and performance within a subtropical climate.
Varieties found to possess commercially acceptable levels of resistance to Race 1 will proceed to further trials to look at consumer acceptance and post-harvest procedures. As the trial site will be used to screen banana varieties for their susceptibility or resistance to Panama Race 1, an important first step was to determine whether there was any Panama disease (Race 1 or subtropical Race 4) already present. In order to achieve this, 30 plants each of Williams Cavendish and Ducasse were planted across the site at the start of December 2020.
To date, 10 plants of each variety have been assessed to check for evidence of Panama disease with no plant showing any symptoms so far. If the disease is not found onsite then Panama Race 1 will be cultured to inoculate the site.
At this stage, there are a number of varieties that will be tested. Keep an eye on ABGC and NSW DPI communications for more in coming months.