The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries imported new varieties as part of the ‘Improved plant protection for the banana industry’ project (BA16001) completed in 2021. These varieties included some TR4 resistant Cavendish from Taiwan and various Lady Finger types from Brazil, which were released from quarantine in early 2022. Also during that project, 18 TR4 resistant Cavendish selections were made from the mutagenesis trials established earlier in the Northern Territory as part of the ‘Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 research program’ (BA14014).
The new trial at South Johnstone was field planted with these varieties in early December 2022. They will be evaluated for agronomic performance over two crop cycles as part of the project ‘New varieties for Australian banana growers’ (BA21002). This is a first look at many of these varieties to see how they perform under north Queensland conditions. In addition, preliminary taste panel assessments will be made.
In conjunction with this agronomic evaluation, several of these varieties are to be screened against TR4 in the Northern Territory to confirm their level of disease resistance. However, the banana freckle outbreak in the NT last year is contributing to delays in commencing this component of the broader work. The Lady Finger types will also be evaluated for Race 1 Panama disease resistance in an on-farm trial on the Atherton Tablelands.