APFIP variety evaluation

APFIP operates an independent, secure and efficient evaluation network, which encompasses most major temperate tree fruit growing regions of Australia. Effective evaluation is vital; Australia is only a small producer with around 0.5% of the world’s apple production. Effective evaluation gives growers the information they require to make balanced decisions on variety choice relevant to their business operations. The growing regions are small and located wherever climate and soil is suitable from southern sub-tropical Queensland to the roaring forties in Tasmania.

In June 1997 a technical advisory group was formed to work with APFIP to develop the National Evaluation Scheme for pome fruit. The group was made up of the General Manager, three growers and two state primary industries departments’ technical staff.

Operating procedures for the evaluation process were drafted by this group during July 1997 and include procedures for:

  • Receiving evaluation material
  • Trial design
  • Site selection
  • Chemical use
  • Site preparation
  • Handling trees before planting
  • Establishing trees
  • Labelling & identification
  • Hygiene
  • Post planting care
  • Training & pruning
  • Removal of trees
  • Record keeping
  • Operation of regional evaluation groups
  • Use of information
  • Evaluation criteria

The evaluation network has been developed around regional evaluation groups of grower and advisory body members who operate under the control of APFIP.

Within each regional evaluation group there are one or more regional custodians upon whose property the trees are planted and managed for evaluation, under agreement with APFIP.

These evaluation sites are planted as part of existing orchards to reflect commercial conditions. The sites are not public access and all members of the evaluation groups sign non-disclosure agreements with APFIP. APFIP also signs contracts directly with the variety owner. All trees supplied to the sites are coded and the evaluation group members are unaware of the variety name or owner. No interest in the material is vested to the custodian or APFIP – it always remains the property of the owner.

Varieties remain in a site for a maximum of seven years. During this time the varieties are thoroughly tested for suitability to that climate. After this period of required testing they will be removed as part of the ongoing security requirements.

Sites have been established in growing regions based on input from growers. With so many microclimates in each area it is important to have sites in areas that reflect as near as possible the average local conditions and soil types.

The evaluations are carried out in different growing regions to provide performance indicators that growers can use as a guide in selecting varieties and rootstocks that are appropriate to their particular business operations.

The collection of consistent data is very important in comparing varieties and rootstocks as grown in different growing regions. The rootstocks M26 and M9 are the standard rootstocks for all sites.

The first four sites were established in 1998, there are now nine in total around the country with a site in each of the major growing regions.

The growers in the evaluation groups are obviously very busy with harvest at the time when most information needs to be collected. APFIP directly contracts information collectors or observers to work with the groups to ensure that all the required data is gathered.

Data is collected throughout the growing season and use of this information is controlled by agreement with the variety owner/agent.

The nature of variety management has changed considerably since APFIP came into being. Third party control of varieties will become more prevalent in the future. Both growers and the third party variety owners will need to know if the variety performs to its specification in a given area before it is commercialised there.

APFIP is an independent evaluator of varieties and is not a variety manager in Australia. This ensures there is no conflict of interest when performing the evaluation role.

APFIP offers very good value to both growers and variety managers in having independent variety performance data. APFIP allows its name to be attached to the variety performance reports. This gives both the growers and variety owners/agents very valuable information about the performance of the variety in specific growing regions

Evaluation sites

The first four sites were established in August 1998, one each in Queensland (Stanthorpe), New South Wales (Orange), Victoria (Goulburn Valley) and South Australia (Adelaide Hills). Information gathered from the operation of these sites has been used to assist with the development of sites in other growing regions in Australia.

Further sites were established in Tasmania (Huon Valley, August 1999), Victoria (Yarra Valley, August 1999), New South Wales (Batlow, August 2000) and Western Australia (Manjimup, August 2002).

All these evaluation sites operate as secure areas with no public access – the entire evaluation operation is conducted under a quality management system coordinated by the Board of APFIP through its Evaluation Coordinator Mark Hankin.

APFIP operates an independent, secure and efficient evaluation network, which encompasses most major temperate tree fruit growing regions of Australia.

Queensland – Granite Belt (Stanthorpe)

Geography: The Granite Belt is an extension of the northern end of the New England Tableland and has an elevation of about 800 metres (Swan, 1972). This elevation causes the cool winters for which the Granite Belt is noted and this makes the region ideally suited for the production of deciduous tree crops and grapes.

Latitude: 28°20′ & 29°5′ S

Longitude: 151°20′ & 152°5′ E

Elevation: About 800 meters

Climate: The climate of the Granite Belt is characterised by cool summers and cold winters with radiation frosts and also low humidity with wide diurnal temperature fluctuations

  • Average annual rainfall – 767mm
  • Average 94 rain days

Production: Production Area: Bearing area 2000 hectares approx (800ha close planted modern, 1200 ha wide spread old fashioned). Non-bearing area approximately 200 ha.

Marketing Data: Queensland

70% Fresh, 30% Processed, 98% Domestic, 2% Export

Marketing Data: Australia

63% Fresh, 37% Processed, 90% Domestic, 10% Export

New South Wales – Batlow

Location: In the southern highlands of NSW, 230 km due south-west of Canberra (ACT), close to major populations of South East Australia of Sydney and Melbourne

Elevation: 750-1000m

Latitude: 35º 31 S

Longitude: 148 09 S

Climate: The growing season is from September to May

  • Average January maximum 25.8°C, and minimum 13.1°C
  • Average June Maximum 9.2°C, and minimum 3°C
  • Average annual rainfall – 1,319mm

Irrigated orchards of the district are virtually drought proof. There are few flood prone areas in the district. Hail is historically a one in seven year event. Hail nets are extensively used. Severe frost has only occurred once in 98 years (1998).

Production: Total district apple production is around 45,000 tonnes (1.2m cartons) annually (increasing). Batlow is famous for its quality Red Delicious apples and is the proud home of the Bonza variety and also important are the varieties Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Pink Lady and Jonagold. Semi-dwarf or dwarf rootstocks predominate with MM106, M26 and M9 most commonly used.

Number of Growers: There are over 65 apple-growing businesses in Batlow and close to 2,000 hectares (ha) of mostly apple orchards. Orchards vary in size from about 5ha to over 250ha.

Batlow orchardists are proud of their and their forebears’ achievements and welcome visitors to the spectacular environment provided at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.

New South Wales – Orange

Location: 250 km due west of Sydney, close to major populations of South East Australia of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne

Elevation: 860-1100m

Latitude: 33° 14 S

Longitude: 148 59 E

Climate: Mild summers, cool autumns, cold winters

  • Average January maximum 28°C, and minimum 13°C
  • Average June Maximum 13°C, and minimum 2°C
  • Average rainfall – 880mm distributed evenly through the year

Frosts occur from mid April to October and snowfalls can occur from year to year. Hail is a major climatic disaster and usually occurs most years in the summer.

Soils: Two major soil types are structured earths of volcanic origin which are deep, well-drained and fertile, generally to be found radiating out from the slopes of Mt Conobolas, an extinct volcano. Less fertile shallow, stony white/grey solodic soils with clay subsoil are found to the northeast of Orange.

Topography: Range from the steep slopes around Mt Conobolas to gentle undulating slopes through most of the district

South Australia – (Lenswood) Adelaide Hills

Location: 35 km east of Adelaide

Latitude: 34 50′ S

Longitude: 138 50′ E

Elevation: 350-500 meters

Climate: Cool-temperate / Mediterranean

  • Average January maximum 25°C minimum 13°C
  • Average June maximum 12°C, minimum 7°C
  • Average rainfall 1000mm, predominantly winter rain over 140 days per year

Hail is infrequent in this area but can be damaging and significant. Frosts are predominately in the winter months and damaging spring frosts are rare.

Soils: Variable podsolic soils to shallow loam over clay, mostly well drained

Topography: Undulating gentle slopes to steep hills as part of the Mount Lofty Ranges

Production: There are 15 pack houses packing 1.8 million cartons of apples and 400,000 cartons of pears with 7 to 10% exported overseas. Variety mix in order of production is, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathon, Fuji, Gala, and Pink Lady. Major new plantings are of Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady, with Sundowner increasing significantly. Total area planted in the Hills is 2,500ha. Variety mix for pears is, Williams, Packhams Triumph, Lemon Bergamot, Buerre Bosc and Corella. New plantings of pears are only small.

Value of Production: Apples $35 million AUD and Pears $4.8 million AUD

Number of Growers: 150 in the Adelaide Hills

Western Australia – Manjimup

Location: The site is located 300 kilometres south of Perth

Latitude: 34°15′ S

Longitude: 116° 10′ E

Elevation: 220-260m

Climate: Cool temperate Mediterranean

  • Average January maximum 26°C minimum 13°C
  • Average June maximum 14°C, minimum 8°C
  • Average rainfall 1003mm, predominantly winter rain

Hail is infrequent in this area but can be damaging and significant when it occurs. Frosts are predominately in the winter months and damaging spring frosts are rare.

Soils: Predominantly deep karri loams and some jarrah sand/gravel soils

Topography: Gently sloping hills and valleys

Production: 10,500 tonnes

Value of Production: $12 million, Export $4 million

Number of Growers: 35 growers, 527ha, 32% of Western Australian plantings

Tasmania – Huon Valley

Location: The site is located 35 kilometres south west of Hobart

Latitude: 42 49′ S

Longitude: 147 04′ E

Elevation: 20 metres above sea level

Climate: Cool temperate/Mediterranean

  • Average January maximum 22.3°C and minimum 9.3°C
  • Average June maximum 12.0°C and minimum 2.3°C
  • Average rainfall – 750mm

Hail is infrequent in this area. Frosts are predominately in the winter months and damaging spring frosts are rare.

Soils: Range from rich river flat loam near the Huon River to low pH sandy loams on the slopes

Topography: Gentle slopes on the floor of ancient glacial valley

Production: 40,000 tonnes of apples is produced annually

Value of Production: $40 million AUD

Number of Growers: Approximately 100

Victoria – Shepparton (Goulburn Valley)

Location: 200 km north of Melbourne

Latitude: 36′ 30′ S

Longitude: 145′ 20′ E

Elevation: 100 metres

Climate: Mediterranean

  • Average January maximum 29°C minimum 14°C
  • Average June maximum 14°C, minimum 4°C
  • Average annual rainfall 490mm, distributed evenly throughout the year

Soils: Sandy loam through to clay loam

Topography: The Goulburn Valley is flat


  • Apples: 1,948 ha -59,000 tonnes fresh and processed
  • Pears: 3,056 ha -70,000 tonnes processed, 65,000 fresh

Value of production: $ 51 million AUD

Number of Growers: 400

Guest database access

APFIP guest database access
APFIP’s online database is a powerful tool for reporting and collation of Australian fruit variety data.

The Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program® Ltd (APFIP) online database is a secure store of evaluation data. The database was setup in 2002 and allows suppliers, observers, administrators and visitors access to evaluation data reports in real time.

Information is entered into the database as it’s collected from evaluation sites. It is a powerful tool for the reporting and collation of fruit variety data.

Visitors can access the database and view weather data from all evaluation sites as listed but a visitor may only view general access variety data.

Click here to visit the guest data base and login using the following information:

  • Username: visitor
  • Password: 00000

Important Note: If this is your first time using guest database access please take the time to review the report information sheet as this will help explain the format and rationale behind the variety reports.