Australian pome fruit volumes could be 10% down on estimates, says APAL -

Australian pome fruit volumes could be 10% down on estimates, says APAL

More News Top Stories
Australian pome fruit volumes could be 10% down on estimates, says APAL

Australia's apple and pear volumes could be down as much as 10% on pre-harvest forecasts according to end of season grower harvest reports, an industry body has said. 

But Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) highlighted that quality has been up this campaign.

As the pome fruit harvest moves into its final weeks, the entity said anecdotal feedback from growers across the country indicated crop volumes were down on expectations. 

In February APAL forecast gross apple volumes to be 3.1% up pears 6.2% down year-on-year. 

"Without a complete re-survey it is not possible to say precisely by how much forecasts need to be revised, but most commentary from growers is pointing to a smaller rather than a larger crop for 2017," APAL technical manager Angus Crawford said in a release.

"Although gross volume is expected to be down, overall 2017 has been an excellent apple and pear season for quality due to milder more favourable growing conditions. 

"The cooler weather we are experiencing is excellent for colour development and in 2017 we will be seeing some of the best coloured fruit seen in a long time."

The major reasons attributed to the reduced volume range from fruit drop and sunburn caused by sudden heatwaves in districts, to cases where the wet spring with excessively wet soils causing some tree losses. 

Due to a cool and wet spring the apple and pear harvest has been mostly two weeks later than normal.  This year many apple regions at the start of May are now still at only early stages of Pink Lady harvest, which normally commences early to mid-April.  

Also as a result of the slow drawn out flowering in spring most varieties are experiencing more mixed maturities, a widening size range and where multi-pick varieties are involved growers are tending to choose not to pick a third time due to the likely loss of quality and packouts.

"While the average size is similar to expectations, growers are reporting the size range is wider with fruit in either the too large category or too small for getting the best Class 1 return," Crawford said.

"Although this is mixed where blocks are quite heavy, the size is down particularly in parts of Batlow, Goulburn Valley and Stanthorpe."

A longer drawn out flowering over spring as well as extra dimpling bug problems has meant more emphasis on hand thinning to set crop loads. Where this hand thinning has not been done to its optimum the overall yields and pack out results are said to have suffered.


Subscribe to our newsletter