Support for

Creating a better future for Australian apple and pear growers,
through industry leadership and commercial advancement.

APAL’s variety development services include new variety and rootstock evaluations, importation quarantine management and tree certification services to industry. 

From 1997 through to January 2021 these services were delivered by the Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program (APFIP) and were 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 project ‘Variety evaluation and tree certification services for the apple and pear industry’ (AP16004) concluded in June 2020. 

From January 2021 APAL has funded and delivered the services, removing the reliance on grower levies. 

For further information about these services contact APAL. 


APAL 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.

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 growers.

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. APAL will be transitioning into using its next generation rootstocks, the JM series, for propagation of evaluation trees in the immediate future. for pears the more precocious Quince A, C and Quince eline® will be used.

APFIP directly contracted information collectors or observers to work with the site custodians to ensure that all the required data was 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

The evaluation scheme and its operations are now supervised by APAL’s Variety Development Manager APAL is currently reviewing the data collection and storage platform to improve in field data collection and ease of access for all users.

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

APAL and PREVAR manage 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 free-of-known-virus Certified trees, budwood and rootstocks is an ongoing priority for APAL towards increasing orchard health, yield and profitability. 

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

  • certified material is free of apple stem pitting virus, apple stem grooving virus, apple mosaic virus and apple chlorotic leaf spot virus. Using certified 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. 

In 2019 at the Tatura Research Station a demonstration site, funded under the former APFIP HIA project, was established to evaluate and allow industry observation 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 stage 3 variety demonstration block at the same site to allow ease of grower viewing. 

Certified stock repository 

APAL maintains the former APFIP 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. On this site APAL holds foundation apple and pear rootstocks and varieties, free of known virus, to distribute budwood for propagation into the evaluation scheme.  

This site provides a hosting service for variety owners. 

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. 

APAL 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. 

  • 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. 

APAL 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 APAL

Contact APAL

Contact APAL

APAL Variety Development Manager
Tom Frankcomb
Mobile: +61413 542 052
Email: [email protected]