Supply of fresh fruit to meet increasing demand is currently limited by seasonality, and large land areas are required. New varieties grown in urban agriculture and intensive protected cropping systems can overcome these limitations.
Growing global demand for produce
To meet the growing global demand, improvements in horticultural production systems will need to reduce inputs and increase food production per hectare. Consumers are increasingly demanding high-quality products, with year-round availability. Growing conditions in Australia don’t allow for year-round production, leading to imports of products such as table grapes many months of the year.
Urban agriculture and intensive protected cropping are two new approaches that have shown promise, but until now attempts to adapt existing fruit tree and vine crops to these systems have proven difficult. Advanced genetic breeding approaches (non-GM methods) can produce new fruit varieties that meet consumer demands for locally sourced, fresh, high quality, uniquely flavoured fruit.
Advanced breeding capabilities
Our researchers have utilised a naturally occurring genetic mutation, in combination with advanced breeding techniques, to create a new dwarf grapevine that continuously produces fruit under glasshouse conditions.
The development of the so-called ‘Microvine’ offers paradigm shifting potential to grow fruit trees in commercially intensive urban agricultural facilities, consumer home gardens, and high-density living spaces. It allows grapes to be grown year-round, meaning it can supply local markets rather than relying on imported grapes for around half of the year.
A shift to local, environmentally sustainable production will provide consumption benefits to consumers and will advance the adoption of urban agriculture.
A unique horticultural opportunity
Microvine has been successfully crossed with other table grape varieties to produce seedless grapes with a range of colours (black, red & white), flavours and textures.
It is suitable to be grown as a potted dwarf vine, or commercially as a tall growing plant in soil-less culture. Under controlled environment conditions, Microvines can provide a continuous yield of grapes. Genes for resistance to powdery mildew and downy mildew have also been bred into the Microvine so that it can be grown with much lower chemical inputs than traditional table grape varieties.