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Horticulture and viticulture in NSW

Horticulture is Australia’s second largest rural production industry, after wheat, with fruit and nuts comprising 52% of this sector. The total production value of horticulture industries in NSW is almost $2 billion. NSW produces most of Australia’s prunes and blueberries as well as around half of Australia’s citrus and macadamia. Wine grapes, cherry and melon produced in NSW also contribute to over a quarter of Australian production of these commodities. The wine industry is Australia’s fastest growing rural industry with a gross value of more than $5 billion.

Current Climate Impact Trends

Analyses of historical temperature and phenology data have shown an advancement of phenology events in a number of horticultural crops across the world as a result of warming temperatures. In Australia, these trends have manifest in impacts on wine grapes with a shortening period between harvest of early and late maturing varieties resulting in vintage compression. This places significant stress on processing logistics and capacity at wineries.

In addition to vintage compression, other horticulture industries are affected by warmer temperatures that delay the fulfilment of chill requirements needed to break dormancy. This is becoming more challenging as temperatures increase and leads to poor fruit development, small fruit size and uneven ripening times.

Future Climate Change

Climate change impacts have been identified as a risk to horticulture production and quality, recognised as such in a number of horticulture industry strategic investment plans. Rainfall is considered one of the most critical climate change concerns for the industry, affecting production directly and through irrigation availability. Many horticulture industries already acknowledge the impacts of drought and rainfall variability and expect this to be increasing under climate change.

Although research on horticulture under climate change in Australia is limited, research in other countries highlights concerns around the known issues of reduced capacity to achieve chill requirements for temperate fruits and nuts. Research in wine grapes emphasises risks relating to heat waves during berry development to harvest and the impacts of sunburn on grape quality.

In addition, there are concerns about how future climate change might impact on important pollinators and similarly how future climate change may impact pests and diseases.

Vulnerability Assessment

The NSW DPI Climate Change Research Strategy is working to develop a comparable analysis of climate change impacts for a range of key primary industries across NSW. For horticulture and viticulture, the Vulnerability Assessment project is analysing climate change impacts for citrus, cherry, almond, walnut, blueberry, macadamia and wine grapes (Chardonnay). In addition, the project is also analysing climate change impacts on related pests and diseases such as Queensland Fruit Fly.

This work will help to provide a picture of potential climate change impacts to the horticulture and viticulture sector across NSW, looking ahead to 2050. It is intended that this work will help identify adaptation needs and priorities that can guide research and development activities over the next 30 years to increase resilience of this critical sector to a changing climate.

Horticulture and Viticulture Commodities

The Vulnerability Assessment project will include the following horticulture and viticulture commodities:

  • Almond
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Citrus (Navel Oranges)
  • Macadamia
  • Walnut
  • Wine grape (Chardonnay)

Horticulture and Viticulture Biosecurity Risks

The Vulnerability Assessment project will also analyse the impacts of climate change for the following horticulture pests:

  • Queensland Fruit Fly (Bactrocera tryoni)
  • Oriental Fruit Fly* (Bactrocera dorsalis)
  • Serpentine Leaf Miner (Liriomyza huidobrensis)
    * not currently in NSW, potential future impact


Information sourced from;
Freshlogic (2019). Australian Horticulture Statistics 2017/18. Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd. https://www.horticulture.com.au/growers/help-your-business-grow/research-reports-publications-fact-sheets-and-more/ah15001/