Australian apples and pears: New variety offering continues to grow

The Australian apple and pear new variety offering continues to grow as growers and breeders alike look for the next thing that will give consumers something new and exciting or growers disease resistance qualities enabling them to produce fruit grown with much less fungicidal inputs to fit well into conventional or organic production systems.

Ahead of the apple and pear Variety Showcase at the APAL Industry Forum, 24 June, sat down with Tom Frankcomb, the Operations Manager of Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program, to discuss the new varieties growers can expect to see in the next 12 months.

APAL: What’s next for Australian apple varieties?

Tom: The huge range of varieties being tested and evaluated around the country by APFIP may to some growers be daunting, however the positive of this, which will start to be seen by growers and consumers over the coming years is that varieties will be commercialised that better suit the range of growing climates around the growing areas from cooler climates such as Tasmania to the Goulburn Valley and its mid-summer heat. In these times of what appears to be rapidly warming climate this will become an imperative for APFIP to evaluate.

The red flesh apple pursuit is starting to see production increasing of varieties marketed under the brands Red Moon® and also Redlove®. The unique flavours and appearance of these are set to create the interest either as fresh or processed e.g. juice as they start to roll out. Time will tell whether consumers will take to them or indeed if some of the red fleshed varieties coming out of breeding programs now and into evaluation blocks will get the consumer excited.

Over the last twelve months production is starting to increase on some varieties recently commercialised such that they are beginning to have a presence at retail such as Smitten®, an early maturing apple, very crisp with a rich balanced flavour. Bravo® with its distinctive burgundy colour and its grower friendly growth habit that it must have inherited from its parent Cripps Red™ is bound to make a positive impact with both growers and consumers.

The stable of disease resistant varieties continues to improve with the Queensland bred Kalei™ and RS103-110 now being joined by the recent commercialisation by a Tasmanian fruit grower of the European bred Apple “60” from Better3fruits in Belgium. Plant Food and Research have also been breeding and selecting scab resistant apple varieties so we will start to see these showing up in APFIP evaluation blocks over the coming years.

Two apple varieties that do well in the warm environment of the Goulburn Valley and coming out of Prevar are in the early stages of commercialisation are Dazzle® and T093 .Growers can expect to see and hear a lot more about these over the next few seasons.

APAL: What about pears?

Tom: With pears there is a move to better colour selections of the more traditional red pears, whilst the increasing production of the GV bred Lanya® and Ricó® pears has the potential to change the pear consumers experience as these eat very well as a “green pear“.

Interspecific pears of which Papple™ and Piqa® Boo® branded fruit are the first are sure to be followed by other varieties, as the unique appearance and changing flavour profiles between Nashi and European pears of these are recognised.

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