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Historical document

Cider apple variety assessment - study tour to France, October 2007 (AP06067)

Key research provider: David Pickering and Wendy Pickering
Publication date: December, 2007

This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.

What was it all about?

With the prior agreement of Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited):

  1. The trip was deferred from August to October to better co-incide with apple maturity dates in Europe
  2. The trip was also expanded to include England, both to examine some English cider varieties and to examine some French varieties held in English collections.

Prior to the author's departure, forty three apple varieties had been identified in Australian pomme fruit collections as cider types. Contact had been made with holders of pomme fruit collections in England and France and visits arranged.

As a result of the study tour forty four/ forty three cider varieties were now known to be in Australia and information had been obtained about thirty nine of these. Those varieties which were not successfully tracked were English and appear to be either 'regionally named' or the names had possibly been corrupted during, or since, importation into Australia. This did not mean that these five varieties had no merit, only that their history and characteristics could not at this time be confirmed.

Forty two of the varieties had scion material available in Australia, the other two were in a private collection and would need to had a budwood supply created outside that collection. The virus status of scion material of all of the varieties was unknown.

The majority of the twelve or fifteen cider varieties relatively commonly known in Australia were English. The expanding range of cider styles within the French varieties made it possible for Australian cider producers to make cider without resorting to additives. The unknown factor was how the newly identified varieties would behave under Australian conditions. The trees in the primary Australian collection had not been trained in an orcharding sense, rather they had managed to produce a maximum amount of scion material. Tree and fruit characteristics would need to be investigated under Australian conditions so that Australian growers could make informed choices about what was available to them.

All forty four varieties were now grafted and planted on the author's property. Of the more recently identified cider varieties, six were grafted in winter 2005 and twenty in winter 2006. Two trees were planted of each variety and whilst these trees would in time generate some information, the size of the planting, the layout and the mixed ages was not conducive to statistical analysis.

During the next four months, articles would be produced for the "Australian Fruitgrower" and the NSW Department of Primary Industries cider webpage would be updated. It was likely that the ABC TV's "Landline" would carry a mention of the tour in a segment that they were planning based around a cider competition that was held late November in Adelaide. I was interviewed at Uraidla by Prue Adams in relation to the trip just prior to the cider competition. The program was planned to be screened in 2008 although the date was not known at the time.

One recommendation that would be made and followed up by the author was in relation to the Australian apple collection held at Grove by the Tasmanian DPI. The work prior to - and the study tour itself - indicated various naming issues, particularly with the French cider varieties in that collection. The issue was raised with the Tasmanian DPI with a suggestion to have variety spellings corrected to the original French before any demand for cider scion material was generated by the study tour publicity. Corrections made now would hopefully minimise confusion over names in years to come. It would also be suggested that the Tasmanian DPI alter their website listing (which showed thirteen cider varieties at the time) by transferring the appropriate varieties from their "heritage" list to the "cider" list. The Tasmanian DPI were planning the re-planting of their entire apple collection at the time  and were amenable to co­operating with cider variety confirmation and revision of the names.

It was prosposed by means of this report that no further information regarding the "discovered" cider varieties was made public in the short term. This seemed the appropriate action to take until there had been the opportunity to confirm with a reasonable degree of certainty that the named variety in Australia conformed to that named variety overseas. This work was commenced in late summer / autumn 2008 and progressively as fruit became available in succeeding seasons. This course of action was recommended so that cider growers do not take up material solely on the basis of name, only to find in years hence that it might not be the named variety and may not even be a cider variety.

French cider varieties in that collection. The issue has been raised with the Tasmanian DPI with a suggestion to have variety spellings corrected to the original French before any demand for cider scion material was generated by the study tour publicity. Corrections made now would hopefully minimise confusion over names in years to come. It would also be suggested that the Tasmanian DPI alter their website listing (which currently shows thirteen cider varieties) by transferring the appropriate varieties from their "heritage" list to the "cider" list. The Tasmanian DPI were currently planning the re-planting of their entire apple collection and were amenable to co­operating with cider variety confirmation and revision of the names.

It was proposed to Hort Innovation (the HIA) by means of this report that no further information regarding the "discovered" cider varieties should be made public in the short term. This seemed the appropriate action to take until there has been the opportunity to confirm with a reasonable degree of certainty that the named variety in Australia conforms to that named variety overseas. This work was commenced in late summer / autumn 2008 and progressively as fruit became available in succeeding seasons. This course of action was recommended so that cider growers did not take up material solely on the basis of name, only to find in years hence that it might not be the named variety and may not even be a cider variety.

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Details

ISBN:
0 7341 1634 9

Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of David I and Wendy Pickering.

Copyright:
Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2008. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).