profile update SUMMER SuccessFrom conferences to regional events, a new scholarship and new staff and national wins, the industry is focusing on the positives and setting itself up for success… Words Nardia Stacy, executive manager AS we wrap up 2023, this issue of WA Grower reflects on the past year and its challenges. The next harvest season looks to be shaping up well, with reports from most regions that conditions have been near perfect for establishing fruit set for the next harvest period. New Hort Scholarship Announced The Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Jackie Jarvis, announced at WAHU a new postgraduate scholarship for horticulture researchers in honour of the work of the late John Cripps. Cripps was the breeder who created the Cripps Pink variety, marketed under the Pink Lady brand. It’s a fitting tribute to his life’s work and the apple’s global success. The John Cripps Horticulture Scholarship will provide a successful candidate with a postgraduate scholarship of $50,000 per year for a PhD ($150,000 over three years) or a Master of Research ($100,000 over two years) based at a West Australian university. The initiative has been endorsed by the Cripps family, including John’s daughters, Alwyne Parker and Dr Helen Cripps, and indicates the government’s committment to the advancement of our diverse industry. Industry Connection The pandemic has caused numerous industry presentations and conferences this year, which may have been overwhelming for growers to attend. Our commitment to keeping our growers informed and up-to-date with the latest innovations and technologies in real time is reflected in our efforts to communicate the outcomes of these events. We believe this approach can assist in our endeavour to raise the industry’s profitability and sustainability. Leading up to Christmas 2023, Pomewest has actively engaged with DPIRD and other horticulture bodies to collaborate on various events. These includes WAHU (WA Horticulture Update) at Ascot Racecourse, the Donnybrook Long Table Lunch and APAL’s Spring Future Orchard Walk. The latest walk, held in Nannup, focused on managing tree vigour and crop load. The event looked at soil and sap samples to determine optimal nutrition for fruit quality. A full report of the event will be covered in the next issue of WA Grower. Dining at Donnybrook Pomewest was thrilled to be the gold sponsor of the Donnybrook Long Table Lunch for the third year. The event (in early November) celebrated and supported the efforts of local growers in the region, showcasing its produce. During the event, Nardia gave a presentation, encouraging people to reconsider pears and engaging them with some interactive fun by providing spot prizes of giveaway pear recipe books. This was an important message since the Donnybrook region contributes to more than half of the state's pear production. A key message of the presentation was: ‘Good things come in Pears’. This will serve as a reminder to consumers about the many attributes and value of pears in their diet, as well as the fruit's versatility, especially as a 'pearfect' snack option. Additionally, Nardia contributed to the local Western Tourist radio segment to boost the consideration more broadly. We want to express our gratitude to the Licciardello family and the Taste Donnybrook organising committee for inviting us to support their unique event again this year. It was made possible thanks to local produce growers, wine and food producers and local businesses. It was a great success and the images captured speak for themselves. Royal Show Success Thanks to the hard work of Noelene Swain from Fresh Finesse, our participation in the 2023 Perth Royal Show was a huge success! Fruit sales increased dramatically from the previous year with many visitors stating that purchasing an apple has become their show tradition, and many are still surprised to learn the Pink Lady is a WA-bred apple. However, many were familiar with the Bravo apple. This event provided a fun and unique way to enjoy fresh food, it was great value for money and had a social consciousness. We want to express our appreciation to all of our supporters, including Terry and Diane Fogliani from Eagleview Orchards, Fruitwest Cooperative, WA Farm Direct and RASWA, for providing the venue, fruit and volunteers to help make this event a cost-effective option for our industry. Thanks, too, to Pomewest staff Susie and daughter Evelyn and WA Farm Direct’s Rebecca Blackman and her children who helped at the event. Did you WAHU? WAHU included leaders sharing their experiences and knowledge in adapting to changing technology, consumer expectations and trends. A trade show enabled growers to access the latest in tech and more. Nic Giblett, of Newton Orchards, was one of five pome growers at the event. She said: “WAHU was once again an excellent opportunity for networking in WA hort. Yes, it’s difficult to force yourself to take the time out of your business, but very worthwhile, even if it’s just sharing the trials and headaches that so many of us are going through as growers in the 2020s. It’s good to be reminded that you’re not alone, and that there are like-minded people working towards solutions and/or support for industry. It’s rejuvenating to be able to refocus on just doing ‘the next right thing’ as you head back to the farm.” Locals on National Panels Hort Innovation and APAL have established two advisory panels to drive innovation and development. These panels will play a vital role in ensuring the sector’s sustainable growth and prosperity. The Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Levy Fund panels and the Apple and Pear Research Development and Extension (RD&E) Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) now have representatives from WA, including Terry Martella from Kirup and Nardia Stacy from Pomewest. Panellists bring diverse expertise, from production to logistics and communication, ensuring the industry’s prosperity; others have a strong background in retail, export and industry know-how, and will play a part in shaping the industry’s growth. What’s Next for Pome? The 2024 APAL Future Orchards International New Zealand Grower Tour is from January 15–19, 2024. During the tour, AgFirst consultants will lead orchard walks in their home regions, exposing participants to a wide range of growing systems, high performance blocks and knowledgeable people working for world-leading orchards. We look forward to hearing back on this tour from local growers taking part. New Project Officer to Build Capacity We are pleased to announce that we are progressing towards achieving our strategic plan’s strategies, tactics and outcomes for 2021–2025. As part of this effort, we have hired a new pome project officer – Jennifer Riseley – to build capacity for the sector and ensure continuity for industry support. This diverse role is focused on delivering field-based trials and industry development for national five-year projects. She will work out of Manjimup. We will share more about Jennifer and her role in the next issue of WA Grower magazine. In This Issue Apple ambassador Dr Helen Cripps and Rebecca Blackman of WA Farm Direct give an update on Soluna in the Thailand market this year. I also want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year. On behalf of the committee, Susie and myself, it has been a pleasure working for you and the industry throughout 2023. We are excited to continue our work in the upcoming year. MORE INFORMATION Nardia Stacy 0411 138 103, nardia@pomewest.net.au.