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Quality is up, pear volumes are down and club varieties continue to rise in 2024

Research & Extension

The near-complete APAL Orchard Census has played a key role in this year’s industry crop estimate which is forecasting quality gains for both apples and pears, and a tighter pear supply.

Favourable growing conditions across most regions have contributed to a promising start to the 2024 season, with a good quality crop expected for both apples and pears, according to the Australian Apple and Pear Crop Estimate for 2024, completed annually by APAL.

Recovery in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region in the wake of the 2023 hail events has been strong for apples, though slower for some pear varieties. With optimal rainfall, minimal heat stress, and low disease risks reported in most areas, the national Class 1 apple crop is projected to increase by 4.98 per cent from the 2023 season, but to be still below the 2022 crop, with packouts forecast to be similar to 2023 at 73 per cent.

Conversely, while favourable growing conditions were also reported for pears, Class 1 pear production is expected to dip by -7.37 per cent relative to 2023, attributable largely to block removals and recovery efforts post the 2023 Goulburn Valley hailstorms.

This modest dip masks a marked improvement in pear quality, with Class 1 pear packouts expected to be 69 per cent, well up from the 59 per cent reported in 2023, and Class 1 volumes only down due to the far larger forecast fall in national pear production of -17.18 per cent in 2023. Overall, a small and higher quality pear crop is expected.

Year on year, we see managed variety production increasing, with the 2024 Crop Estimate predicting a 7.24 per cent increase in managed variety Class 1 production compared to the 2023 harvest. This category is predominantly composed of Scifresh (marketed as Jazz™), Nicoter (Kanzi®), CIVG198 (Modi®), ANAPB01 (Bravo™ domestically) and Scilate (Envy™) in the 2024 year. This trend is mirrored in the planting mix, where older varieties are progressively replaced by managed ones, augmenting annual production volumes. Gross production of Sundowner, Fuji, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious varieties are all forecast to fall by over 10 per cent, while gross production of Williams pears is expected to fall by 25 per cent.

The APAL Orchard Census has played a vital role in producing the 2024 Crop Estimate. In the absence of the continuing ABS commodity surveys, APAL will utilise the APAL Orchard Census to generate the crop estimate for 2025 and beyond.

The APAL Orchard Census consists of geo-spatially mapping orchard blocks and attaching relevant block data that includes variety, age, planting density, and a calculation of the planted hectares. The APAL Orchard Census has mapped over 90 per cent of orchards across Australia and will continue to be maintained in the future.

The Australian Orchard Census has been, arguably, one of the largest projects undertaken by APAL in recent years. To see it come to life and support industry information and insights has been a key milestone for the project. The Crop Estimate is just one of many key informative industry reports that the Australian Orchard Census will support.


This article was first published in the Autumn 2024 edition of AFG.


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