Apples

24.05.17

Apples (Malus domestica) are one of the most widely grown tree fruits in the world and have been cultivated in Asia and Europe for thousands of years. The apple tree originated from Central Asia where its wild ancestor Malus sieversii, can still be found.

Apple trees are deciduous and can be grown as large trees (if grown from seed) or as smaller trees (if grown using clonal rootstock). There are more than 7,500 cultivated varieties of apples with a range of characteristics. Different varieties are grown for various tastes and uses, including eating fresh, cooking and juicing.

 who provide support to growers through providing tools and market opportunities to assist industry growth and increase competitiveness of both apple and pear growers. 

币游注册 (Hort Innovation) invests in and manages research, development and marketing programs for apples. Apples are a levied industry and Hort Innovation receives matched funding from the Commonwealth Government up to 0.5% of the industry’s GDP or the industry contribution which goes to funding for research and development.

Facts and figures

  • Australia produced on average just under 300,000 tonnes of apples per year, almost all of which is consumed domestically
  • The five most popular apples in Australia are: Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Pink Lady, Fuji and Gala
  • Intensive orchard systems require planning and can have extensive establishment costs but can reach first commercial harvest within 1-2 years
  • Orchard grown fruit require reliable access to good quality water for irrigation

Production status

币游注册Apple production in Australia averages around 300,000t a year. Around 73% is consumed fresh with the remainder goes to processing and juicing.

The majority of apple production is in Victoria which produces about 45% of Australian production, followed by New South Wales at 16%, Queensland at 10%, South Australia at 10%, Western Australia at 9%, and Tasmania at 9%.

The number of apple growers has declined since 2000 which is believed to indicate a consolidation where smaller scale growers are leaving the industry and medium and large scale growers are taking over their production.

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Map of potential and current growing regions

币游注册  to assist with estimating winter chill units at a given location.

Frost just before to just after the blossom period can cause crop loss or damage. It is important to select sites that have sufficient air drainage; the bottom of valley floors and areas where dense, cold air accumulates are best avoided.

币游注册Excessive wind can also be detrimental to apple trees, causing damage to the tree, the crop and generally making it difficult to cultivate and train the trees.

Access to a water supply, such as dams or an irrigation scheme, is essential to provide consistently available moisture during the growing season to promote regular and heavy production. This is particularly important in semi-intensive and intensive plantings.

Varieties

Commercial apple trees are generally grown using rootstock and there is a large range of apple rootstock available in Australia. When sourcing trees it is important to understand the merits of the rootstock from which the trees were produced as they will have different tolerances to soil and alkalinity as well as different fruiting attributes such as size and maturing rate. It is important to source good rootstock and ordering trees from a reputable nursery about two years prior to planting may be necessary.

Some of the commercially produced varieties most commonly grown in Australia include: Cripps Pink (Pink Lady), Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Bonza, Braeburn, Delicious, Golden Delicious and Cripps Red (Sundowner).

Some varieties are grown specifically for apple cider and these include Breakwell’s Seedling, Brown Snout, Brown’s Apple, Bulmer’s Norman, Dabinett, Improved Foxwhelp, Kingston Black, Michelin, Reine des Hâtives, Somerset Redstreak, Stoke Red, Sweet Alford, Sweet Coppin, Tremlett’s Bitter and Yarlington Mill. A range of French and English varieties have been rediscovered in Australia; for more information on these refer to the Primefacts note on .

Variety selection is based on a number of considerations including: market demand (fruit size, colour, taste), suitability of the variety to environmental conditions (rainfall, elevation, temperature, soil type, chilling requirement), disease tolerance and resistance, and the intended market (fresh, processing, juicing). Beyond environmental and agronomic considerations, there are also business and farm profile/strategy decisions that contribute to the variety selected.

币游注册For more information on apple rootstock and varieties, refer to the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries website pages on  and .

Planting and crop management

币游注册The apple industry in Australia has moved to intensive apple orchard systems that have a range of 1,500 to 4,500 trees per hectare and are planted on dwarfing rootstock. Intensive systems provide earlier commercial harvests (from the first year rather than the fourth or fifth), higher average yields and easier management. However, they do have higher establishment costs, higher maintenance of young trees and may require additional costs for infrastructure to protect crops from hail and birds.