Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program

Variety evaluation and tree certification services for the apple and pear industry

The Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program (APFIP) is a not-for-profit company that plays an important role in lifting orchard performance through the delivery of three core services:

APFIP was established in 1997 and is funded on an ongoing project basis by Hort Innovation using a portion of the apple and pear research and development levy set aside specifically to fund APFIP’s work. The current project ‘Variety evaluation and tree certification services for the apple and pear industry’ (AP16004) is supported from July 2017 to June 2020.

Since its inception APFIP has:

An independent review of APFIP in 2014 found the program had been ‘highly successful’ in meeting its objectives of helping growers and improving productivity.

“In a strategic context, the program has changed industry attitudes and provided direction in critical areas that were obvious limitations to the profitability of the apple and pear industries.”

Dr Bryan Whan, independent program reviewer.

 

 


APFIP Services

Find out more about APFIP’s services:

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.

Evaluation Sites

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

Site Location & topography Elevation Latitude/Longitude Climate Rainfall Soils
Stanthorpe, QLD Granite Belt, at the north of the New England Tablelands. 800m 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. 767mm Typically, sandy loam to clay loam surface soils with clay or parent rock at depth.
Batlow, NSW South West Slopes. 750-1000m Lat: 35º 31 S
Lon: 148 09 S
High rainfall, cool climate. Warm days cool nights. . Nets widely used. 1,319mm Mineral rich, basaltic soils.
Orange, NSW Central West. 860-1100m 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. 895mm Deep well drained clay loam.
Lenswood, SA Adelaide Hills – Undulating gentle slopes to steep hills as part of the Mount Lofty Ranges. 350-550m 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. 1000mm Variable podzolic soils to shallow loam over clay, mostly well drained.
Manjimup, WA South West – gently sloping hills and valleys. 220-260m 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. 1000mm Predominantly deep karri loams and some jarrah sand/gravel soils
Huon Valley, Tas Southern Tas – gentle slopes. 20m 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. 750mm Range from rich river flat loam near the Huon River to low pH sandy loams on the slopes
Ardmona, Vic Goulburn Valley – floodplain, flat. 100m Lat: 36′ 30′ S
Lon: 145′ 20′ E
Mediterranean climate, warm summers, cooler winters. Rainfall evenly distributed through year. 490mm 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.

Increasing the use of certified virus-free trees, budwood and rootstocks is an ongoing priority for APFIP towards increasing orchard health, yield and profitability.

The three key benefits to growers of using certified trees and propagating material are:

  • virus-free tested status;
  • trueness to type; and
  • minimum nursery tree standards (as described in APFIP’s Nursery Tree Specifications ).

APFIP-certified material is free of apple stem pitting virus, apple stem grooving virus, apple mosaic virus and apple chlorotic leaf spot virus. Using virus-free varieties and rootstock helps protect the Australian industry from the losses associated with these viruses.

Virus-free trees have been found to out-yield infected trees by 40 to 56 per cent. However, the industry uses a more conservative general benchmark that shows the use of certified propagating material free from known viruses can result in up to a 20 per cent increase in orchard productivity.

Certification also delivers planting material that is true to type assisting orchardists in achieving consistent trees across their orchard. A uniform orchard helps to increase production and reduce costs through more efficient pruning and picking operations. Some growers regard this as a critical benefit of using certified propagating material.

APFIP has recently established at Tatura Research Station a demonstration site to show to industry the productivity and profitability advantages of certified free of know virus pear trees versus non certified (virus infected).The site has randomized replicated rows of Corella on Quince A , 250 trees each of both certified and non-certified. The site is adjacent to the APFIP stage 3 variety demonstration block at the same site to allow ease of grower viewing.

Certified virus-free

APFIP established its certification scheme for fruit tree propagating material after widespread industry consultation and investigation of existing European schemes. The scheme operates under the Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program® Ltd. (APFIP) certification trademark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certification systems set up to assure the virus-free status of planting material have been operating in Europe and North America for the past 40 years, where they are widely supported. European research in the 1970s and 1980s confirmed that yield benefits where evident in all varieties that were certified.

To establish the scheme APFIP introduced a range of industry standard varieties and rootstocks into heat treatment in the winter of 1998 to re-establish them in a known state and free from the viruses of economic significance.

Varieties and rootstocks to be entered into the certification system must also be assessed for trueness to type. This is conducted by APFIP once the candidate trees are fruiting as described in the certification rules.

Minimum nursery trees standards are also a requirement of certification.

APFIP now has major nurseries as well as individual growers as APFIP Certified Licensees. All licensees are developing certified stoolbeds and producing certified trees.

The approved users of the APFIP certification trademark are selected in accordance with the certification rules.

Certified stock repository

APFIP has established a repository for its certified varieties and rootstocks in the Coal River Valley near Cambridge in Southern Tasmania. This site has access to ample supplies of water, is isolated from pome fruit production areas and protected with fully enclosed bird netting.

APFIP played an instrumental role in securing faster access for Australian growers to new varieties via the introduction of the current quarantine protocols. These protocols and technologies have reduced the time required in quarantine for imported apple and pear planting stock from four years to 15 months.

APFIP continues to work to ensure Australian growers have access to the latest varieties as quickly as possible by acting for nurseries, growers and breeders in managing the importation of new varieties through the post-entry quarantine process.

Balancing access and risk

Pome fruit budwood is classified as a high security risk because of the risk of introducing fire blight and other exotic pests and diseases.

A review of the pome fruit budwood protocols was completed in February 2002. Changes in the importation protocols following the review resulted in a reduction of the post-entry quarantine time from four years to 15 months.

  • All imports must go through the Department of Agriculture’s Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) facility in Mickleham.  Make a reservation online through the Post Entry Biosecurity System.
  • A permit is required for importation to proceed. Permits can be applied for through BICON.

APFIP provides a service to international breeders and owners to manage the importation process along with an independent hosting service for their varieties post quarantine at its Repository

Please note: Importers need to manage the new material once released in accordance with the certification system to ensure that they are not infected by uncertified material.

Contact APFIP

Contact APFIP

Contact APFIP

Operations Manager
Tom Frankcomb
Mobile: +61 408 503 528
Email: tom@apfip.com.au


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