Australia: APAL anticipates production and quality boost in 2015
Thanks in part to improved orchard management increasing per hectare yields, the Australian apple industry is expecting a strong boost in its production this season along with larger proportions of class 1 fruit.
Apple and Pear Australia Ltd (APAL) said it was expecting around 15% more apples than 2014 and 4% more pears, with a total pome fruit production of 416,000 metric tons (MT).
The forecast would put the total crop 12% higher than last year, and 5% up on 2013.
"Harvesting is currently underway for pears and Royal Gala apples around the country, but we still have a few months to go before our latest maturing apple – Sundowner™ – is harvested in May," APAL CEO John Dollisson said in a release.
"We are hoping that good weather and growing conditions prevail and the crop forecast is realised, but there is still the chance the crop could be reduced if we experience any fire, bird, heat or hail damage.
"Fruit quality is looking excellent across the major growing regions and we're expecting a higher proportion of our top grade 'Class 1' fruit."
Dollisson added Royal Gala and Pink Lady were two apples in particular that would see strong production increases, and as such APAL would be focusing its efforts on exports to help find suitable markets for them.
Other apples that are forecast to have higher volumes this year include new varieties like Jazz, and with pears there may be a small increase in Packhams.
APAL also said the amount of fruit harvested per hectare would increase from around 29MT per hectare in 2013 to 33MT in 2015, which it said demonstrated the industry's achievements in upgrading orchard management.
"The ongoing commitment of growers to improve their business practices and become more efficient and competitive is clearly demonstrated in this year's yield forecast," Dollisson added.
"Australia's fruit growers are recognised as being among the best in the world in regards to quality and safety. Ongoing support to ensure they have access to the latest research and technology to support their contribution to Australia's economy is vital."