National Grower Survey
One of the first activities of this new project is a survey of truffle growers. The survey will gather information on pests and diseases as well as different aspects of truffle orchard management and attributes of the orchard. This survey is a critical first step for the project as it will give a fuller picture of the pest and disease incidences and trends in production zones across the country and any management issues being faced by producers. The information gathered will help us target project resources for maximum efficiency.
The survey has been conducted in Western Australia, with 49 growers completing the survey representing approximately 80% of known growers. The results are now being collated and analysed by Anne Mitchell, consultant scientist to the project. These results will be presented at the ATGA national conference in September.
We are now concentrating on the survey of Eastern States growers. Surveys have been completed by more than 60 growers in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. If you have indicated an interest in being part of the survey you will be contacted by a project team member in the coming weeks – Alan Davey (Advyron RS Innovations, ACT), Anne Mitchell (consultant, WA) or from DAFWA - Helen Collie, Alan Jacob or Stewart Learmonth.
We have contact details for many truffle growers in the east, but if you have not received a call from a member of the truffle project team and would like to take part in the survey, or know of other growers who may have been missed, please get in touch with project manager Stewart Learmonth - Ph (08) 9777 0167; firstname.lastname@example.org
From the surveys conducted so far the main “pests” of trees have been a suspected bacterial disease and a borer that attack hazelnuts, as well as establishment pests such as African black beetle. To date oak trees appear to be relatively unaffected by pests and diseases. Slugs and millipedes appear to be the major pests of truffles. The significance of the 'new' truffle beetle is being investigated and will be the subject of ongoing investigation.
Information gathered during the survey will directly inform industry biosecurity planning and management. RIRDC, in partnership with Plant Health Australia (PHA) has developed an Australian Truffle Industry Biosecurity Plan. This plan assists industry preparation should exotic pests or diseases that not yet known to occur in Australia arrive. Early detection of such agents is critical in the decisions and subsequent actions taken such as eradication. Knowing the location of truffle orchards and being able to contact growers is vital in this quest.