It has been generally positive for the Australian farming industry so far this year, and we have seen this with the new export opportunities that have arisen. This is set to continue as new varieties of rice and grapes have been researched and produced. Should their respective trials go well, this will make a huge difference to sales and exports once again for the industry.
Overall, there are two different varieties of short-season rice currently being trialled in the Riverina. Depending on the results, it could be a big step forward for productivity because there is a potential to multiply the crop by two. After harvesting the winter crop as per normal, the summer rice crop can be planted immediately after so it would work efficiently for all involved. Seeing as though they are late sowing varieties, it opens the door for things that could never be done before.
Although previous and smaller tests have been completed to this point, 2017 will see the first widespread trial for the varieties that have been developed by The Australian Rice Partnership. As well as increasing production, experts have also stated that they take significantly less water to grow. Even though they are planted later than regular rice, they still produce a yield comparable to that of the long-season varieties. Considering the season is shorter and the yield is the same, water consumption can be reduced whilst the ‘tonnes per hectare’ figure moves in the opposite direction.
Moving away from rice, there is also good news for the fruit sector because numerous brand new grape varieties are being grown in Carnarvon, Western Australia. As the main example, we could be set to welcome the ‘Sweet Sapphire’ to the market which is a much longer variety of the fruit; in fact, most are the size of the average thumb. In the development phase of the trials, around 1,700 boxes were filled (from 1,200 vines) which is a positive yield. As a result, around three more hectares have been planted at the location with plans to increase this further.
Included in the new varieties, consumers may also soon be eating Candy Hearts (sweet, red grapes) as well as Cotton Candy (white grapes). Up until this point, there has been an air of negativity surrounding the grape season in Carnarvon after encountering issues with the white varieties. In addition to being late, the temperature also remained low for so long which caused problems in the sugar levels in white grapes. However, there is now much more positivity with the suggestion of the new varieties.
All in all, it looks as though it will be a good year for Australian farmers. If both of these new varieties make it to market, it will improve efficiency and it may just give the country a unique selling point when it comes to both rice and grapes on the world stage.