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Ongoing project

Variety evaluation and tree certification services for the apple and pear industry (AP16004)

Key research provider: Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program

What’s it all about?

This investment supports the operation of the Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program (APFIP) and so delivers essential infrastructure and information related to the evaluation of new varieties and the certification of trees propagated from high-health-status materials. It began in mid-2017 and runs new-variety demonstration sites and initiatives including New Varieties Roadshows. Additionally, APFIP maintains a number of weather stations around Australia at its evaluation sites that record temperature and rainfall data of use to apple and pear growers.

On June 18, in conjunction with horticulture’s annual Hort Connections event, the project hosted its first Variety Showcase – displaying some of Australia’s best new and emerging apple and pear varieties for growers and other industry participants. For those unable to attend the event, videos of the varieties showcased have been produced and will soon be made available on the APAL website.

Other work in the project has included…

  • Work towards planning and planting new variety demonstration sites. In February this year, work commenced towards a new pear certification demonstration site, with trees budded by a nursery in Tasmania. It is anticipated the site will be planted in Goulburn Valley during 2019.
  • Maintaining and monitoring activity at existing demonstration sites, looking at the performance of certified versus non-certified trees. Information on these sites can be found online here.

In recent months, the project has also undertaken consultation with industry through online surveys and face-to-face interviews, looking at the APFIP certification service and industry attitudes towards certified trees. As a result of the feedback given, APFIP is currently looking at new strategies, tactics and operations of providing the industry with budwood free of quarantine-able diseases and viruses of economic significance. Look out for updates in industry channels.

Still in its initial stages, the main focus of the program has been planning new variety demonstration sites, and maintaining and monitoring activity at existing demonstration sites in Stanthorpe and Lenswood, looking at the performance of certified versus non-certified trees.

Existing sites were established in 2013, consisting of 250 certified and 250 non-certified trees planted on M26 rootstock grown and managed the same. The program has been conducting basic comparisons around tree vigour, yield and packout between certified and non-certified trees.

Tree vigour observations were conducted through years 2013 to 2016/17, showing improved vigour and better tree consistency in certified trees. Fruit yield and packout observations were made with the first commercial-size crop in the 2017 season.

It is expected that the project’s first roadshow event will take place during 2018, timed to align with Future Orchards activities. Keep a look out for details in industry channels.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund