There are many steps along the apple and pear supply chain between planting and growing a tree and delivering a final piece of fruit to the consumer.
Nurseries provide apple and pear growers with high quality trees and help growers make informed choices on which varieties and rootstock to order and plant.
To improve interactions and relationships between growers and nurseries APAL offers a Tree Procurement Service through the Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program® Ltd (APFIP). This service helps growers order the best possible tree to fit their needs and ensures the nursery delivers trees that meet those specifications.
Growers need to consider a variety of things when deciding to plant a new block. For example, what rootstock combination is most suitable; what type of tree structure they intend to use; and if new varieties are available, will they complement the overall management plan for the new block.
Nurseries liaise with growers to determine the rootstock and propagation required to achieve the grower’s desired tree. They will then ‘knit’ the rootstock and the scion or bud (desired variety) together by grafting the two and then growing them on for 12 months in the nursery – which is why it’s important for growers to plan ahead and communicate their requirements to the nursery. Nurseries also play a key role in ensuring the tree is free from viruses and is grown to Australian standards.
Apple and pear trees are grown in orchards in all six Australian states. Modern orchards look very different to what they did a few decades ago because planting densities (the number of trees per hectare) are much higher and tree canopies (the shape of the branches) are more structured and highly-managed. APAL assists growers with orchard management by delivering information and activities through the Future Orchards® program as well as offering extensive technical information across this website.
Pack houses and cool stores
Apples and pears grown in Australia go through a selection process before reaching the consumer – fruit is either sent straight to market, placed into cool storage or sent for processing.
Pack houses are used to sort, grade, pack and store fruit. There are a variety of technologies available throughout the packing process including size and blemish sorting and internal scanning to eliminate fruit with poor internal characteristics, such as browning.
Some fruit is deemed not acceptable for retail sale due to various imperfections including shape, size, colour, skin marks, russet, sunburn or hail damage. Instead of discarding this fruit, orchardists can send them to processors for juicing, canning or to produce cider.
Export market development
The apple and pear industry’s minimal profile in export markets and limited committed export culture is considered a major strategic weakness for Australian pome fruit. Imports have the potential to take an expected 20 per cent share of the Australian domestic market and the industry must now consider exports as an option in order to maintain current capabilities.
APAL has been actively involved in developing new markets for Australian apples and pears in Asia. Leading study tours for growers to Asia, hosting inbound buyer visits, running pilot trade promotions on Australian apples and pears and delivering training sessions with retailers (link to post) have helped re-establish Australia as a premium supplier of apples and pears into growing markets.
Marketing and sales
Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (Hort Innovation) delivers domestic marketing campaigns to promote Australian apples and pears fro the industry. Find out more about the campaigns by visiting the dedicated web sites for Aussie Apples and Australian Pears. You can also follow Aussie Apples on twitter, Aussie Apples on facebook and Australian Pears on facebook for regular updates on marketing.