APFIP operates an independent, secure and efficient evaluation network, which encompasses the major temperate tree fruit growing regions of Australia. Independent and effective evaluation gives growers the information they require to make balanced decisions on variety choice relevant to their growing region, climate and business operations.
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.
The nature of variety management has changed considerably since APFIP began. Third party control of varieties will become more prevalent in the future.
Evaluation data ensures both the growers and variety owners/agents have valuable information about the performance of the variety in specific growing regions.
The National Evaluation Scheme for pome fruit was developed in 1997 by a cross-sector technical advisory group comprising APFIP representatives, growers and Government technical staff.
An evaluation process was established, and an evaluation network developed around regional evaluation groups of grower and advisory body members who operate under the supervision of APFIP.
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.
These evaluation sites are planted as part of existing orchards to reflect commercial conditions. The sites have restricted public access and the site owners or managers have custodian deeds with APFIP. These deeds ensure the integrity of the site and the intellectual property security. APFIP also signs evaluation deeds directly with the variety owner. All trees supplied to the sites are coded and the custodians and observers 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.
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 individual 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 currently the standard apple rootstocks for all sites. APFIP will be transitioning into using the its next generation rootstocks for propagation of evaluation trees in the immediate future. For apples replant, woolly aphid resistant rootstocks will be used and for pears the more precocious Quince A, C and Quince eline® will be used.
APFIP directly contracts information collectors or observers to work with the site custodians to ensure that all the required data is gathered and entered into the APFIP database
Data is collected throughout the growing season, requiring site visits several times per week by the observer during the harvest season. Use of this information is controlled by agreement with the variety owner/agent.
There are seven evaluation sites across the key growing regions nationally:
- Stanthorpe, QLD (August 1998)
- Orange, NSW (August 1998)
- Ardmona, Goulburn Valley, VIC (August 1998)
- Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, SA (August 1998)
- Huon Valley, TAS (August 1999)
- Batlow, NSW (August 2000)
- Manjimup, WA (August 2000)
All these evaluation sites operate as secure areas with no public access.
Table 1: APFIP Evaluation sites
||Location & topography
||Granite Belt, at the north of the New England Tablelands.
||Lat: 28°20′ & 29°5′ S Lon: 151°20′ & 152°5′ E
||Cool summers and cool to cold winters, with radiation frosts, low humidity and wide diurnal temperature fluctuations.
||Typically, sandy loam to clay loam surface soils with clay or parent rock at depth.
||South West Slopes.
||Lat: 35º 31 S
Lon: 148 09 S
|High rainfall, cool climate. Warm days cool nights. . Nets widely used.
||Mineral rich, basaltic soils.
||Lat: 33° 14 S
Lon: 148 59 E
|Mild summers, cool autumns, cold winters. 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.
||Deep well drained clay loam.
||Adelaide Hills – Undulating gentle slopes to steep hills as part of the Mount Lofty Ranges.
||Lat: 34 50′ S
Lon: 138 50′ E
|Cool climate, predominately winter rain. Hail can be damaging and significant. Frosts are predominately in the winter months and damaging spring frosts are rare.
||Variable podzolic soils to shallow loam over clay, mostly well drained.
||South West – gently sloping hills and valleys.
||Lat: 34°15′ S
Lon: 116° 10′ E
|Cool, temperate, Mediterranean climate. Predominately winter rainfall. Hail is infrequent but can be significant when it occurs. Frosts are predominately in the winter months and damaging spring frosts are rare.
||Predominantly deep karri loams and some jarrah sand/gravel soils
|Huon Valley, Tas
||Southern Tas – gentle slopes.
||Lat: 42 49′ S
Lon: 147 04′ E
|Cool temperate/Mediterranean. Hail is infrequent in this area. Frosts are predominately in the winter months and damaging spring frosts are rare.
||Range from rich river flat loam near the Huon River to low pH sandy loams on the slopes
||Goulburn Valley – floodplain, flat.
||Lat: 36′ 30′ S
Lon: 145′ 20′ E
|Mediterranean climate, warm summers, cooler winters. Rainfall evenly distributed through year.
||Sandy loam through to clay loam.
PREVAR Stage 3 sites
APFIP also manage on behalf of APAL and PREVAR the stage 3 Evaluation sites. There are six sites that have been established around the regions from 2017 to 2019 with up to 15 Prevar stage 3 selections. Agreements have been established between APFIP and the site custodians. The aim of these sites is to allow larger tree numbers and hence fruit for assessment and viewing by industry of stage 3 varieties.