The 29th International Horticultural Congress | Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes | 17-22 August 2014
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Go Nuts

Sponsored by the ISHS Section Nuts & Mediterranean Climate Fruits

Photos (from left): macadamia nuts, pistachio trees, walnut storage

A one-day 'Go Nuts' Symposium will be held in Brisbane, Australia as part of the International Horticultural Congress 17-22 August (IHC2014). The aim of this symposium will be to update delegates on the latest research. Other symposia at IHC2014 that may interest nut delegates include 'Consumer and Sensory Driven Improvements to the Quality of Fruits and Nuts', 'Mechanisation, Precision Horticulture and Robotics', Innovative Plant Protection in Horticulture' and 'Postharvest Knowledge for the Future', however there are other which may also interest delegates. There will be 1-day tours on Saturday 23 August that will include visits to macadamia research centres and farms. One tour to the Sunshine Cost will also include viewing other subtropical tree crops, whilst the other to the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales will also include viewing blueberry production.

International production of nuts is increasing rapidly. Production of all tree nuts increased from 2.7 million metric tons in 2009 to an estimated 3.4 million metric tons in 2012. The Australian tree nut industry includes almonds, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts. Very small quantities of cashews and pine nuts are also produced. Tree nuts are grown in a variety of climatic conditions across Australia, with all states and territories except the Northern Territory having one or more type of orchard. This presents many production challenges, but Australian growers have excelled at planting and managing large areas quickly. Production from the Australian tree nut industry is continuing to expand. Additional production from tree nut orchards planted earlier this century will generate a farm gate value approaching $1 billion in value by 2020. Exports will rise to $750 million per annum.

The symposium invites oral and poster contributions on all aspects nut related topics including:

  • Plant physiology and canopy management, particularly with a focus on managing to maintain productivity and reduce tree size.
  • IPM and innovative pest and disease management
  • Varietal improvement, particularly the new technologies that might shorten the time to commercial release in breeding of large long-lived perennials like nuts
  • Quality assessment, particularly real time assessment of shelf life and flavour attributes.
  • Pollination, possibly in a bee depleted environment
  • Rapid non destructive moisture measurements
  • Post harvest storage, including aeration / dehydration and fumigation.


Chaseley Ross (Australia) is the Executive Officer of the Australian Nut Industry Council, the body that represents the seven tree nut industries established in Australia. Chaseley has 15 years experience in agriculture in the areas of policy, project management and development and implementation of best practice to growers.

Dr Michelle Wirthensohn is the Horticulture Australia Research Fellow with the University of Adelaide. Michelle has been involved in horticultural breeding and research since graduating from the University of Adelaide where she gained her Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons), Graduate Certificate in Higher Education and a PhD in Horticulture. Michelle has worked on various plant breeding projects involving banksias, eucalypts and olives. She is currently the Program Leader of the Australian Almond Breeding Program which is funded through Horticulture Australia Limited. She is a member of the Almond Board of Australia’s Plant Improvement Committee and lectures in Plant Breeding at the Waite Campus. Other areas of research interest include the biochemistry of almond kernel flavour, genetic mapping of important agronomic traits of almond such as kernel weight, fatty acid profile, and water use efficiency of almonds.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Damiano Avanzato is Horticultural Engineer and former researcher at the Horticultural Institute of Rome, where he spent 35 years working on fruit propagation and restoring and evaluation of plant genetic resources. During his career he has published over 150 papers and attended over 100 scientific meetings. Significant achievements of his research are the setup of a walnut grafting method with hot callusing cable and the in vivo grafting conditions of ex vitro scion and rootstock material – a grafting method that was awarded by the Italian Minister of Agriculture. He has served the ISHS as Chair of the Section Nuts and Mediterranean Climate Fruits from 2006 up to 2014 and during his mandate he has promoted several new symposia and published five Scripta Horticulturae books devoted to almond, pistachio, chestnut, olive and walnut. As international consultant he has cooperated with FAO, USAID, IFAD, private organizations and universities in several projects on fruit rehabilitation and propagation, developed or in progress in the former communist countries, as well as in Asia, the Middle East and South America.

Professor D McNeil. I have had a career in agricultural science spanning 35 years from my first appointment as a trainee crop physiologist with the NSW Dept. of Agriculture in 1971 through to my present appointment as the Chair of Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania. My career has included time spent in universities USA, Australia, NZ), state Agriculture Departments, AID projects and private agribusiness ventures.

A core area of my interest has been in the development of new and expanded agricultural crops and industries particularly nut trees and pulses. My research since 1986 has particularly looked at tree nut systems globally from production to consumer. It was carried out while employed in Australia and New Zealand as well as through extensive periods of study leave in the USA (Corvallis and Davis), UK (Canterbury) and China as well as visits through Europe and Asia. I have used science to develop understanding how nut growers and handlers at all stages might achieve quality and value for the consumer and how the industries can grow. Recent publications on tree nuts have; compared rates of walnut industry development in Guangxi (China), Australia and New Zealand; developing models of import functions for nuts into the UK; several industry papers on market quality globally; a book with K Evans on grower management of walnuts for safety and quality, editing the 6th International Walnut Symposium proceedings; as well as book chapters on walnuts in Australia and safety and quality of walnuts.

Scientific Committee

  • Dr Jianlu Zhang (Australia)
  • Dr Louise Ferguson (USA)
  • Dr Kathy Evans (Australia)
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