Research on fruit trees began at Tatura 80 years ago. In this article we look at the early years: the war years 1939 to 1945
80 years of research in the Goulburn Valley (part 3)
The war years: 1939 to 1945 (Continued from last issue)
Research on fruit trees takes off
By 1946 the peach and pear trees at the Station were well established and were full-bearing.
It was not until 1948 that large trials on both management of peaches, and fertilisers for pears were established.
Some of the first researchers were George Kidman, Lex Goudie, John Keatley and Wally Gayfer.
Research at the Station and in the Goulburn Valley widened and included:
•evaluation of apple rootstocks, and of canning qualities of peach varieties
•thinning of peaches based on tree butt circumference
•frost protection of apricots
•irrigation timing, based on evaporation data
•permeability and drainage characteristics of Goulburn Valley and Murray Valley soils.
One of the most pressing problems facing growers was effective control of insect pests and diseases. This research was given high priority.
Demonstration of a newly developed airblast sprayer
In 1946, an air blast sprayer developed by the Aeronautical Research Laboratory at Fishermen’s Bend, was demonstrated at Tatura. Some years later, air blast sprayers were commercially developed and used.
Interest and support in the work at the Station increased each year. This was reflected in the increase from 200 people in 1946 to over 500 in 1949 attending field days at the station.
The annual budget for the Station steadily increased, and from 1950 to 1959 more research staff were appointed.
Among the 21 field and research staff were Bob Harper, Bruce Cockroft, Bram Bakker, Willie Grasmanis, Leo van Heek, David Hughan, Des Free, Jack McPhail and Bas van den Ende.
Canning peach selections
By 1952, five canning peaches were selected from the many seedlings and crosses made since 1939 and released for commercial planting.
A competition among the staff to name the varieties was won by John Wallbrink, who received a bottle of wine. He named the varieties Tatura Dawn, Tatura Sunrise, Tatura Noon, Tatura Aurora and Tatura Sunset.
Funds were also made available for staff quarters to house up to 12 staff; a general store; and a modest workshop for the Station’s mechanic, Jim Muir.
In 1956 the staff quarters and attached cook’s flat were opened and accommodated.
Three meals a day were provided during the week. Food was supplied at weekends but each resident had to do their own cooking.
Clean bed linen was provided each week but the residents did their personal washing.
The staff quarters were not insulated. It was hot in summer and cold in winter. (cont next issue)
See this article in Tree Fruit Feb 2019