A new project led by the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus will boost the international expansion of Australian almond varieties through the sale of almond trees.

Almond researcher Dr Michelle Wirthensohn has received one of the Australian Government’s Priming Grants announced this week by Minister for Jobs and Innovation Senator, the Hon. Michaelia Cash.

Offered under the Global Connections Fund of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Priming Grants are designed to link international partners to Australian entrepreneurs to commercialise their projects. The University will be partnering with Varieties International, a California-based company that has been working with different breeders around the world for testing, and commercialisation of successful crosses.

Australia is now the second largest almond producer after the United States. The University’s almond breeding programs address the need for greater variety of almonds to cater to changing climates, such as more water use efficient varieties, and self-fertile varieties, that don’t require bees for successful fertilisation, to combat the threat of Varroa mite on bee populations.

The Australian almond breeding program based at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus has released six new varieties that are exciting the local market. All out-yield the benchmark variety ‘Nonpareil’ by at least 10% and four are self-fertile, thus lessening the dependence on bees and pollinator varieties within the orchard.

The University’s almond breeding program is funded by Hort Innovation, with almond industry levy funds.

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