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A bit of colour for grape trial

ADDING APPEAL: Dr Ali Sarkhosh (left) and technical officers Glen Oliver and Peter Bidgood treated Flame seedless grapes at Ti Tree in Central Australia to improve their colour.
ADDING APPEAL: Dr Ali Sarkhosh (left) and technical officers Glen Oliver and Peter Bidgood treated Flame seedless grapes at Ti Tree in Central Australia to improve their colour. Contributed

RESEARCHERS are literally adding a bit of colour to grapes grown in Central Australia in an attempt to make them more appealing to consumers.

Red table grapes grown around Ti Tree, north of Alice Springs, have always tasted great, according to scientists from the Department of Primary Industry.

However, project leader, senior research horticulturist Dr Ali Sarkhosh, said compared to southern-grown varieties they struggled to compete in the colour stakes.

"Red table grapes grown around Ti Tree have great taste, but often have less intense colour than those grown in cooler areas, which makes them less attractive to buyers,” Dr Sarkhosh, who is based at the Katherine Research Station, said.

"Another one of the challenges for growers in Central Australia is the need to wait for colour development, often during periods when prices are high in the market.

"This can be frustrating for growers who have grapes that meet all other market specifications, except colour.

"Growers in some countries enhance colour with Ethephon, a natural grape growth regulator.

"A newer tool for triggering grape colour development is ProTone®, which contains the plant hormone abscisic acid.

"Both these products are registered for grape colouring in Australia.

"We're conducting research to assess the effect of different ProTone® and Ethephon concentrations on the colour and quality of the seedless grape variety Flame in Ti Tree's climatic conditions.”

Dr Sarkhosh said the treated bunches would be harvested soon and assessed for colour and quality.


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