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Feb 19

Going for dried gold

A WIDE-ranging review of the research literature has suggested many ways to improve the growing and drying of Australian dried fruit, to improve returns to growers and deliver high-quality fruit more consistently to customers.
Nanjing Night Net

Labour saver: Fruit dried on the vine, above, compared with fruit dried on the rack, right.

A research project run in conjunction with the review compared old with new drying methods, and found no major difference between the quality of rack-dried and vine-dried fruit produced by summer-pruning, a labour-saving technique that leaves fruit to dry on severed canes on the vine.

Inventor and dried fruits grower Ivan Shaw, who chaired the Dried Fruits Australia research project, “Producing high-value dried grapes, Stage I and II”, said the project was driven by an identified market for 3000 to 5000 tonnes of golden, sultana-type fruit in Australia and overseas.

“A few years ago we were supplying the international market with copious quantities of light-coloured fruit,” Mr Shaw said.

“Selling brown fruit is no way to do business, although if it is free-flowing, we can still market it.

“Consistent production of golden fruit has always been the Holy Grail of the Industry. There’s never going to be a silver bullet to solve all our problems, but we can try our darndest to do the best with what we’ve got.”

Mr Shaw described the closure of CSIRO’s horticultural research laboratories at Merbein as “regrettable”, because the loss of the scientific library at Merbein had scattered the research literature, complicating the task of reviewing it.

He said there was a lot more research that could have been done to improve the industry when the centre was closed.

He cited the CSIRO’s achievement in producing a genetically modified sultana variety in which the polyphenol oxidase (PPO) gene, which causes fruit to darken with rain, has been silenced.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.