Going nuts for new almond varieties

Australia is now the second biggest producer of almonds in the world, with most being exported to India.

The Waite-based Australian Almond Breeding Program has been a successful collaboration between the University of Adelaide and the Almond Board of Australia and it’s growers since 1997. Funded through Horticulture Innovation Australia, the program employs classical breeding and marker-assisted selection to breed new improved almond varieties to maintain a competitive edge in both local and overseas markets.

In 2016, Program Leader Dr Michelle Wirthensohn was awarded the inaugural 2016 SA Science Excellence Award for Research Collaboration.

Ross Skinner, CEO of the Almond Board of Australia, and Prof Julie Owens, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, yesterday signed an agreement to develop and promote the cultivation of six new almond varieties – Maxima, Capella, Rhea, Carina, Mira and Vela.

These new varieties are Australian-bred almonds for Australian conditions. Maxima is distinguished by having a very large kernel, while Carina and Mira are both self-fertile, which should substantially improve pollination.

Pictured front: Ross Skinner, Julie Owens. Back: Michelle Wirthensohn, Mike Keller (Head of School AFW), Kiara Bechta-Metti (Adelaide Enterprise).

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