The Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program (APFIP) is helping growers identify and purchase high quality nursery trees that suit their needs.
Defining the quality of nursery trees seems to be a part of any conversation when fruit growers get together. Currently, there are at least five different types of nursery trees that growers require nurseries to produce and we don’t have a standard nursery tree type in our industry, suggesting it’s quite an individual thing.
With this in mind, we could come to the conclusion that nursery tree quality is delivering to the orchard a product that suits the grower’s situation and a product that he or she is quite happy to plant and establish.
Alongside improvements in delivery methods that have reduced transport damage, nursery tree quality in Australia has improved over the last 6-8 years with some nurseries producing very well feathered trees.
But if we were to have this type of tree as the standard across our industry we still have some way to go. Growers must think about their own situation as this type of tree may not be for everyone. Large feathered trees on dwarfing rootstocks need close attention and a good level of commitment and management in the first year as any stress related issues from lack of water, fertiliser and weed control, can be disastrous.
For growers to receive what they want, you must first know what suits your situation, followed by very good planning and, most of all, communication with your nursery. Communication must be paramount; nurseries can’t be criticised for failure to deliver if they don’t know what your specification is.
APFIP has developed a guide on ‘Nursery Tree Specifications & Tree Types Description’ that covers three different types of nursery trees: one year old whips, 18 month old budded and two year old nursery trees. These specifications are quite achievable with good nursery practices and, along with good communication with nurseries, can be used as a guide when ordering and negotiating final delivery specifications of trees.
Certification of your planting material is another thing we need to think about now. Planting certified trees, clean of known viruses that have an economic impact on the outcome of the variety should be a part of your nursery tree ordering. APFIP has a tree certification system implemented with major apple and pear producing nurseries. Growers can to talk to their nurseries about the availability of certified trees in their next order.
APFIP also has a nursery tree procurement service where APFIP supports growers in acquiring nursery trees to their specifications.
APFIP’s aim is to work with growers and nurseries and help bridge the communication gap, and have a positive outcome for all parties. A full guide to this process can be viewed at our website. Any grower requiring this service should contact APFIP.