Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 389
Posted on: July 27th, 2018


This week’s quote is from Nancarrow and Sullivan from ABC News. The article discusses the very strong export growth in the Australian wine market. The value of wine exports increased 20% in FY18 to reach $2.76 billion. In volume, Australia exported 852 million litres.

“Australia’s international wine exports continue to surge, with the latest export figures hitting the highest growth in 15 years.”

Growth was from our largest exporter, China, was recorded at 55%. While the value of wine exported to the US fell by 8%.


Scientists like Dan Carlson are in high demand, thanks to recently discovered tools that enable them to tweak the DNA of all kinds of organisms.

For nine nerve-racking months beginning in the summer of 2014, Dan Carlson waited for his lab experiments to be born. Carlson and his team at the biotechnology startup Recombinetics had made a small tweak in the genetic code of dairy cattle in an attempt to prevent the animals from growing horns. Now, that edited DNA was being copied over to the cells in fetuses growing in their surrogate mothers.

No one had tried this before, so it wasn’t clear it would work. And compared with the mere days it takes for the cutting-and-pasting of genes to complete in culture dishes, the months-long pregnancies were agonizingly slow. “You hope everything is going well,” Carlson says. “You’re expecting it to come out without any horns or horn buds, but you just don’t know.”

As is common with cloned animals, most of the embryos never made it. But Buri and Spotigy, two calves born in April 2015, were free of the telltale bumps that eventually sprout into horns. That meant they would be spared the fate of millions of U.S.-raised cattle, whose horns are destroyed with a hot iron or toxic paste shortly after they’re born or are sheared off when they’re older. It’s a practice Carlson knows his own father, a farmer, struggled with. The painful procedure is done to prevent the cows from goring one another or their human overseers, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other animal-welfare groups vociferously oppose it. (PETA isn’t a big fan of gene editing either, which the organization considers animal experimentation.)

Source: Bloomberg, Aki Ito, 19 July 2018


Avocado lovers rejoice. Giant avos weighing up to 1.8 kilograms are now available in Australia.

Avozillas are five times the size of a typical avocado variety, with an average weight of 1.2 kilograms. And the wow factor goes beyond the size — the variety is considered a very good eating fruit. The Groves family began harvesting the first crop from their 400 Avozilla trees at their tropical fruit farm in Bungundarra, central Queensland three weeks ago. The family is the only commercial grower of the variety in Australia.

David Groves said he was thrilled to be part of an industry first, bringing a new variety to the market and seeing people get so excited about it. “Everybody is pretty amazed to see these giant avocados and they are quite a statement, when you see one it is unforgettable,” Mr Groves said.

Mr Groves said the taste was very buttery — that was the first box ticked when the family considered buying into the variety. “Often big fruit and big vegetables don’t taste as good as the smaller ones but in this case, they really do, they are a very good eating fruit,” he said.

The variety originated in South Africa and was called Post Office before being renamed by the plant breeding rights owner. Mr Groves said planting Avozilla trees was not a simple process, with the trees under plant breeder rights and requiring the payment of a royalty and the signing of a license agreement.

Wholesaler sells out within 48 hours. “We have two to three buyers that pretty much clean them up before they even land.” Mr Perna said they were sold at the very firm price of $12 each.

Source: ABC, Jessica Schremmer, 11 July, 2018

CHART OF THE WEEK The chart for this week is from the Financial Times. $700million (USD) was invested in Agriculture tech companies in 2017, more than the two previous years combined. Interest from investors in this sector has been diverse, spanning corporates, professional VCs and family offices. 2018 will likely see this trend continue.
Source: Financial Times, Chloe Cornish