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Rifle looking the goods in trial season

red tomato positioned in front of crops

By Adam Thomas, Syngenta Field Biology Manager

Rifle’s Journey

T411653, or ‘Rifle’ as it is now affectionately known as, first entered Australia in 2013, selected out of Syngenta’s tomato breeder Sylvain Bontems development program from Sarrians, France and was trialled in Queensland along with 64 other new gourmet hybrid tomato varieties.

We looked at ten plants of Rifle per trial and subsequently the variety was selected and advanced to be trialled again in 2014 to determine consistency of performance and what region and seasonal timeframes the variety is best suited to.

With good trial results in 2014, Rifle was again promoted and further seed was required to continue an up scaled trial program for 2015. An unfortunate seed production failure meant we could only manage small plot trials throughout 2015.

Trial Work

Fast forward to 2016, and the autumn and winter trialling seasons are now complete in Bundaberg and Bowen. With my assistance, the Queensland Syngenta Sales Representatives have been busy trialling and promoting Rifle to key growers with some very positive results and feedback.

Leith Plevey, a Senior Territory Sales Manager for Syngenta in Horticulture, assisted in commencing the first commercial demonstration trials in Bundaberg this summer with one of the largest producers in Bundaberg. We planted 20,000 plants over two plantings for the trial and following the results from that trial, the grower was keen to repeat again in spring.

The first 10,000 plant trial of Rifle on a farm in Bundaberg, Qld.

A total of three growers have seen selected to participate in the spring-summer trials in Bundaberg to increase grower awareness and Rifle’s suitability to their agronomic requirements. We will be closely following the results of these trials and look forward to another positive result and outcome.

The Bowen trial program commenced its first planting mid-March and although to a lesser scale of 200 - 400 plants per trial with two of the key growers in the area.

Another three trials followed, allowing growers to get to know the variety from the very start to the very end of the Bowen growing window. After completion of this trial program the growers can achieve the confidence they need to decide if they like what they see and if Rifle will have a future in their program in the coming years.

Performing under pressure

Bowen has had one of the wettest autumn-winter growing cycles since 1994 - putting pressure on variety performance and growers to supply high fruit quality into the market.

With the assistance of our local Territory Sales Representative, Sarah Iddles, the first two trials of Rifle were evaluated and they proved that even under higher than average pressure Rifle was performing. Impressively, it has stood up against the long-time market standard variety that is recognised as one of the best varieties to handle Queensland’s weather conditions and has dominated this space for over two decades.

With two more spring trial evaluations to come we are hoping for good weather and a strong finish.

A beautiful truss of Rifle fruit taken from the first 2016 trial in Bowen

Why Rifle?

Rifle is a good consistent performer across all growing cycles with a ‘globe’ fruit shape averaging between 160 -180 g fruit weight which fits perfectly to what the market requires.

With an excellent disease package, high yields, good uniformity, fruit firmness and tolerance to the weather pressures experienced when grown in beautiful tropical Queensland, Rifle is poised to give growers confidence in meeting market requirements.   

Picture taken at Bowen trial displaying Rifle’s ability to produce high yields and quality fruit set to the top wire.