The Horticulture Innovation funded project ‘Evaluation of new rootstocks for the Australian Citrus Industry – CT17002’ is led by Dr Tahir Khurshid from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Dareton Research Station. The project is focused on evaluating several overseas rootstocks budded to a range of mandarin and sweet orange varieties.
The program is spread over five Australian states with 18 trials at grower’s properties and 4 trials at the Dareton Research Station. One of the components is evaluating the rootstocks for their dwarfing effect, which will potentially produce small trees for high-density planting systems for the citrus industry.
Size-controlling rootstocks have many benefits:
- they are important for high-density orchards, as these plantings crop earlier and produce high yields due to many trees per unit of land
- harvesting smaller trees is more economical than larger trees
- smaller trees can have more efficient use of fertilisers and chemical sprays
Therefore, growth control characteristics are being sought for most citrus breeding programs worldwide.