New handheld scanning technology is being used across Western Australian mango orchards to deliver the tastiest eating experiences for consumers.
Mangoes are grown from Kununurra to Gingin, with the annual crop averaging 2,500 tonnes and valued at up to $16 million.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has invested in a near infrared (NIR) device - a hand held scanning tool helping mango growers improve harvest decisions.
Traditional methods for determining the optimal harvest time include visual examination of the fruit and cutting fruit to view the colour of the flesh.
Department development officer Tara Slaven said the NIR device was a non-invasive method of measuring fruit dry matter.
“It’s really important to pick at the right time so when the fruit ripens it has full flavour and consumers have a great eating experience,” Ms Slaven said.
“The NIR device is a non-destructive method of measuring fruit dry matter in the field to assist mango growers make better harvest decisions.
“Dry matter is linked to brix level, or the sugar content, in the fruit. The higher the brix at picking, the higher the dry matter and the better the flavour of the fruit.”
The device was trialled by the department last year and will be used in key mango growing regions this year, starting with Kununurra.
It will complement a device currently available through the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA), allowing more WA growers to use the technology.
Ms Slaven said the scanning technology required some experience for use in the field.
“The AMIA has developed a model for mangoes and shared that data and technical assistance with the department to make the device a practical in-field tool for WA growers and agronomists,” she said.
She added that the technology still needed to be used in conjunction with other methods for assessing fruit characteristics to determine the best picking time.
Kununurra grower and packhouse owner Quentin Parker tested the NIR machine last season.
He said having the machine available took a lot of the guess work out of the process, but required further testing and practice to ensure it worked effectively for growers in the field.
“It certainly helped the people that would traditionally pick early and certainly helped me at packing shed level,” Mr Parker said.
Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (08) 9368 3937