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
||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
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.