|Author: ||J. Srhoj|
|Keywords: ||commercial, rainforest, vase life, market development, agronomy|
The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries in collaboration with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and Yuruga Nursery Pty Ltd have been conducting research into the development of five native foliage products.
The three species and two cultivars being developed for commercial production are: Grevillea baileyana, Lomatia fraxinifolia, Athertonia diversifolia, Stenocarpus ‘Forest Lace’ and Stenocarpus ‘Forest Gem’. Previous research involved an evaluation of 21 species from which these five were selected based on market comments, post harvest life and ability to grow under a range of climatic conditions. Lomatia fraxinifolia, Grevillea baileyana and Athertonia diversifolia are all native to north Queensland rainforests.
Stenocarpus ‘Forest Gem’ and Stenocarpus ‘Forest Lace’ are hybrids and have been selected by Yuruga Nursery Pty Ltd.
Both Stenocarpus cultivars are protected by Plant Breeders Rights.
Current research into the commercial development of these species involves: market research, post harvest trials, field trials and grower training.
Two field trials have been established on the Atherton Tablelands, one in the high rainfall zone at Yungaburra and the other in the low rainfall zone west of Mareeba.
Field trials will evaluate the effects of fertiliser rates and pruning techniques on yield.
Pests and diseases will be identified and appropriate control measures tested on trial plants.
Vase life evaluations have also been carried out and the results indicate that the five foliages have exceptional vase life.
All five products are being sold on the Australian domestic market in small volumes at this stage; it is anticipated that sales will significantly increase in the coming years.
A number of leading exporters have indicated that the foliages may also meet the requirements of export markets. Stenocarpus ‘Forest Gem’ is similar in appearance to Persoonia longifolia (Barker Bush), which is a bush-picked foliage currently exported from Australia to a number of overseas markets.
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