Stone Fruits





Industry Facts

  • 50-60 apple growing families in Tasmania.
  • The industry has a gross value of $40-50M. Tasmania exports apples to over 20 countries. Tasmania produces approximately 55,000 Tonnes of apples.
  • Tasmania accounts for 18% of the total Australian production and 65% of total Australian exports.

Fruit Growers Tasmania Inc is a non-profit industry association representing Tasmanian growers. There are approximately 50-60 apple growers in the State with around 90% members of FGT.

FGT's operations are funded by a voluntary carton levy paid by growers and collected on the Association's behalf by the carton suppliers.

Additional funds for promotion, market development activities, training etc are generated by FGT activities; from the national compulsory levy which is collected by the Horticulture Australia Ltd (HAL) and other R & D funding sources.

Early History

The first apple tree was planted in Tasmania by Captain Bligh in the 1700’s.   Apples were among the first crops introduced to Tasmania by the early settlers.  These were initially planted around the homesteads as "house orchards", being part of a near subsistence economy.From the 1820's onwards an ever increasing surplus was exported to new English settlements throughout Australia.  By 1860 (the first year of detailed statistics) there were 120 varieties of apples produced in Tasmania - mostly concentrated in the urban and suburban fruit gardens of Hobart in the South  and Launceston in the North.  The largest concentration of orchards in 1860 was in the Launceston area.  The Huon was of minor importance with only 3% of the total crop.In the period from 1860 to 1890, fruit production in Tasmania moved from the northern to the southern areas and  hastened the development of commercial orcharding.  By 1883 there were 552 orchards in the Huon which gave the district a dominant position with respect to both total production and the quality of its fruit.The initial stimulus for the emergence of specialised commercial apple growing in Tasmania were the good prices obtained in British colonial markets in the 1870's and early 1880's.  A much greater incentive was the beginning of successful apple shipments to England in 1876.Overseas exports were aided by two developments in the 1880's - firstly a regular steamship service between Britain and Australia and secondly the adoption of refrigeration.  Trial shipments were made to California, British Columbia, Syria, India and Ceylon.  The first shipments to Germany were made in 1901.  With the changes to Australian trading regulations (Act of Federation in 1901), all inter-colonial duties and tariffs were removed and interstate trade increased to over one million boxes annually.The boom in commercial plantings reached a peak in 1915 when Tasmanian orchards contained 4,420,000 apple trees of which 1,765,000 were non bearing.  The major cause of the sharp fall in new plantings was World War I.  During the short lived recovery in the 1920's exports from Tasmania reached three million cases (in 1923).Exports have continued to expand and Tasmania now exports to over 20 countries.  Tasmania is known internationally as the “Apple Isle”

Recent History

The Tasmanian Apple Industry reached peak production in 1964 with 8.9 million boxes.  In the decade 1960/61 to 1970/71 many part time orchardists and orchardists with only a small area of orchard left the industry.  The removal of these orchards was balanced by new plantings so that the total area was maintained at about 7,600 hectares.  Total production was maintained around 7.7 million boxes as was exports of around 4.5 million boxes despite the develauation of the pound sterling.The next decade 1970/71 to 1980/81 saw major changes in the industry.  The entry of the United Kingdom into the EEC in January 1973, had a major impact on Australian trade; Australia lost its preferential access to the UK market.  Over-production of apples and pears in EEC countries, combined with the Common Agricultural Policy of the EEC, gave little prospect of continued exports at existing levels to the UK/European area.Australia revalued its currency, and also removed a tax exemption on the use of fruit juice in non-alcoholic beverages.  Inflation caused costs to rise to the detriment of the fruit grower.  This applied especially to freight rates to Europe.  The freight rate per box (18 kg) was $1.53 in 1961.  It slowly rose to $2.05 in 1970, but quickly rose to $2.92 in 1973 and to $4.74 in 1976. A fruit growing Reconstruction Scheme (Tree Pull) enabled growers in financial difficulties to leave the industry.  During this decade nearly 700 orchardists left the industry which more than halved the orchard area from 7,628 to 3,026 hectares and halved the production to 4.2 million boxes.  Exports fell dramatically to 1.6 million boxes.The Tasmanian Apple and Pear Marketing Authority (TAMA) came into being in 1977.  With exports restricted to opportunity markets, growers had to look to mainland Australia.  With the introduction of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) in 1978, Tasmanian growers could profitably compete on the mainland.  However, this market required a different varietal mix preferring Red and Golden Delicious.  To assist the growers to change their varieties the Orchard Adjustment Scheme was introduced in 1981 until 1984.The abolition of TAMA in 1982, marked the end of large overseas exports.  With the disastrous 1981 export season TAMA lost in excess of $7 million on 1.5 million boxes of fruit.  The phasing out of Stabilisation and Supplementary assistance saw exports overseas fall to only 360,000 boxes in 1984.  They have since recovered to over 1 million cartons in 1995/96.

After eight years of persistent effort and under intense Japanese media focus, the first shipment of 9,200 cartons of Tasmanian Fuji apples reached Japanese supermarket shelves in June 1999.  Shipments over the next few years presented growers and exporters with many challenges.  Perhaps the most difficult was overcoming fumigation damage to the fruit.  Fumigation of all the fruit is required under the Japanese protocol.However, the Tasmanian industry undertook R & D projects and has been successful in achieving a high level of control of the fumigtion damage problem. Fruit continues to be shipped to Japan, usually in July.  The Japanese market remains a developing market and a challenging one for growers and exporters. There is no doubt that Tasmania’s disease free status has been a key element in its export successes over the years. 

Today’s Apple Industry
The bulk of Tasmania's apples are now grown in the Huon district (83%) south of Hobart.  The remainder are produced in the Spreyton (10%) and Tamar (7%) districts. Between 30 and 35% of the total crop is exported overseas - the main markets being Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines.  Another 20 - 25% is sold interstate (mainly Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne).  A further 15% of the crop is consumed in Tasmania with the remainder utilised for processing.Tasmania has a sound reputation for clean, green product which can easily be justified through work undertaken by industry and the quality standards incorporated across all the major primary producers.  Tasmanian apple growers are world leaders in minimising chemicals.

Additional industry information can be found at

Apple & Pear Australia Ltd (APAL)
APAL was formed in 2002 replacing the former Australian Apple & Pear Growers’ Association.APAL is the national peak industry body and all apple and pear growing States are affiliates.  APAL undertakes national issues on behalf of industry and works closely with Horticulture Australia on promotion and research and development


April to September


The Braeburn skin has a red blush and stripes over a yellow background.

A crisp, juicy apple, it has a cream coloured flesh and a unique flavour that combines sweetness and tartness.

Originating in New Zealand in 1952, Braeburn is thought to be a cross between a Lady Hamilton and Australia's own Granny Smith.

Golden Delicious Apple

March to November

Golden Delicious Apple
Golden Delicious has a bright yellow to golden skin colour. It is at its best when the skin turns from green to gold.

It is excellent as an eating apple, with its crisp creamy white flesh its sweet, tasty and juicy.

This variety is especially suitable for cooking especially in pies, tarts and caramelised in cakes and muffins.

Golden Delicious originated in 1912 in West Virginia, USA.

Granny Smith Apple

January to December

Granny Smith Apple

Granny Smith has a bright green skin.

The white flesh is slightly tart, and is crisp and juicy.

This crisp crunchy apple is suitable for both eating fresh and cooking in tarts, pies, apple crumble and baked, this apple holds its shape well.

Australia's own Granny Smith variety came about from a chance seedling grown by Maria Ann Smith in Eastwood, NSW. It has been available since 1868.


March to December


Jonathon has a bright red skin over a yellow base.

It is a sweet, juicy, crisp and refreshing apple with cream coloured flesh.

While Jonagold is mainly consumed fresh, it is suitable for inclusion in hot or cold recipes.

The Jonagold variety originated in New York State in 1968, as a cross between a Jonathon and Golden Delicious. The standard Jonagold has been available in Australia for 15 years, while the Red Jonagold has only been available for 8 years.

Pink Lady Apple

April to December

Pink Lady

Pink Lady has a pink blush over a greenish yellow base skin.

It is a crisp apple with a dense, firm flesh and an excellent, almost effervescent flavour.

Pink lady has a high sugar content making it perfect for cooking.

Pink Lady originated in 1979 in Western Australia, and is a cross between a Lady Williams and a Golden Delicious.

Fuji Apple

April to November

Fuji Apple
The skin colour of Fuji can vary, but it has a predominantly red/dull pink blush over a green/yellow base.

A big apple with a honey sweet taste, Fuji often has a seethrough core. Firm texture, crisp and juicy with an extremely dense flesh.

Many consider Fuji to be the perfect eating apple. Fuji has a high sugar content which makes it good for cooking as it will retain its shape.

Fuji originated in Japan where it is a major variety.

Red Delicious Apple

February to December

Red Delicicous Apple

Red Delicicous are a crimson to dark red apple, characterised by five distinct crowns on the base.

This variety is the most popular eating apple grown in Tasmania. It has a sweet highly aromatic creamy white flesh.

Red Delicious is popular in many dessert dishes.

Red Delicious originated in Iowa, USA during the early 1870's. A number of strains exist including Hi-early.


Early February to May

Royal Gala and Gala Apple

Gala are characterised by a blush of pink on the skin, the colour varies from yellow to almost orange with deep orange stripes.

Gala is a round sweet apple fits nicely into a child's hand. Its dense, sweet, aromatic and juicy with a white flesh.

Gala can be eaten fresh, included in salads or used as a cooking apple and is particularly suited to sauce.

Royal Gala and Gala originated in New Zealand in about 1934, as the result of a cross between Kidds's Orange Red and Golden Delicious. They were introduced into Australia in the early 1980's.

Sundowner Apple

April to December


Sundowner has a dark red skin and a round shape. Its most prominant feature is white markings called lenticels that occur naturally on the skin.

Sugar levels in Sundowners improve with storage, making them a sweet, flavoursome apple, perfect for baking.

Sundowner is a cross between a Golden Delicious and Lady Williams, and it orginated in Western Australia.

Photographs have been supplied
by Apple & Pear Australia Ltd and Horticulture Australia Ltd n
Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association  


Tasmanian cherries are known throughout the world by connoisseurs as  the best in the world. The temperate maritime climate is ideal for producing full flavoured, firm, large cherries. Tasmania produced around 3000 T of cherries in 2007-2008 with a predicted harvest of 4000T in 2008-2009 and an estimated increase to around 7000T by 2011-12.

The Tasmanian cherry season commences around mid December and goes through until mid/late February with peak season around the 2nd and 3rd week of January. Due to the various micro climates in the state fruit harvest is staggered hence a two month harvest window.

The major cherry producing regions in Tasmania are the Huon Valley, Derwent Valley, Coal River Valley, Tamar Valley and north west coast.

Early varieties of cherries include Van and Stella, followed by mid season varieties such as Lapin and Simone, with late varieties such as Sweetheart, Sweet Georgia and Regina.  Other varieties are also available including Bing, Sylvia and Brooks. Japanese cherries are also available from early December.

Tasmania is a declared fruit fly free area within Australia and this enables export to a wide variety of countries without disinfestations or cold sterilization treatments. Due to Tasmania’s island nature it is also free of many other pests and diseases found on the mainland. Tasmania currently does not have access to mainland China and South Korea for cherries.

Tasmanian growers are focused on export and are able to organize both sea and air freight. Reliable daily domestic sea freight routes are available to move fruit to Melbourne and link fruit with major sea and air routes throughout the world.       Major export markets for cherries include Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Europe, India, USA, Singapore, Malaysia and Middle East. In recent years cherries have been sea-freighted to Taiwan, USA and Hong Kong whilst daily air freight is available to most destinations.

Most Tasmanian growers and packhouses are accredited to 3rd party audited internationally recognised quality assurance systems such as SQF 2000, HACCP and Globalgap, or nationally recognised systems such as Freshcare or WQA (Woolworths Quality Assurance). Fruit is typically packed in 2kg and 5kg cartons although various packhouses will pack punnets and other pre-packs to order.         Strong emphasis is put on cold chain management through the supply chain to ensure maximum shelf life for fruit. Most growers have on site hydrocoolers and transport fruit between orchard and packhouse in refrigerated vehicles. Modern pack houses have excellent facilities and controlled atmospheres throughout the packing facility.

The Tasmanian cherry industry continues to invest significant amounts on new plantings and infrastructure to ensure that only premium fruit is presented into premium export markets to be enjoyed by cherry lovers all over the world.  



Pears in Tasmania

All pears harvested for commercial handling are harvested in a immature state.  This is important when buying pears, especially early in the season (say March to June) that they are given the correct amount of time to ripen, but at room temperature.  It is not necessary for pears to change colour to appear ready to eat, it is important that their flesh softens and develops its juices.Pears in cool storage improve in eating quality very slowly and a different rates depending on the variety.  This process continues up to a point when they will breakdown.  ie - their quality line on a graph falls off a cliff after a long gradual climb, somewhat similar to wine.This is why varieties such as Josephine’s and especially the Gluo Morcequ should not be released to the market until the later parts of the marketing season.Varieties like Packhams and Buerre Bosc are somewhat more flexible and are generally marketed throughout the selling season. 

Pear Varieties

The most widely grown pear in Australia, the Packham is a good all purpose pear.  Handles well on the shelf and in the coolstore.  Contrary to popular opinion the consumers need not wait for them to change colour (green-yellow), but a change in pressure is recommended.

The “Rolls Royce” of dessert pears.  It is characteristically large, with a very smooth delicate green skin.  Its appearance is enhanced by an attractive red blush.  Because of its delicate skin it is very susceptible to handling damage, hence requires special care at all stages of production and marketing.  The finely textured flesh and high juice content make it a real delicacy.  To fully appreciate comice they must be ripened at room temperature to a stage where the flesh yields slightly to finger pressure.  Recommended pealing to eat.This early variety is available soon after harvest in Mar/April, through to June.

BUERRE BOSC:                       
Regarded by a leading Australian fruit exporter as the “best in the world”, Tasmanian Bure Bosc exhibit excellent uniform brown pigmentation.  This elongated pear is average to large in size, stores well and is very durable during handling.  Can be eaten raw or is commonly used for poaching recipes.  It is available from early May to October.

One of the more difficult varieties to produce, this pear is characteristically small, with smooth green skin, a rounded shape and sweet juicy flesh.  Because of its delicate skin it is prone to handling marks.  It stores well and is at its best late in the season – July to September.

This variety favours the cool climate of Tasmania where it is a prolific bearer.  Not to be confused with its “poorer cousin Winter Nails”.  They are very popular in Tasmania and outsell better-known varieties.  Handles well, best eaten when flesh pressures drops.  It is a mid season pear of average size with a heavily gusseted brown/green skin.  It is well rounded and has high juice content if eaten at optimum maturity.  Availably May to August.

A rare variety little known on Australian fruit markets.  It is the last pear to be harvested, and coolstore extremely well.  Handles well during all stages of production and marketing.   Glous have a unique taste which if eaten late in the year is very special.  Characterised by a clean green skin it has a similar shape to the Packham’s Triumph.  Available August to November.

Information on pears in Tasmania provided courtesy of Scott Hansen, OE Hansen & Son Orchardists,

Parsons Bay Road, Nubeena, TasmaniaTelephone - 03 6250 2550;  Fax 6250 2438.
O.E. Hansen & Son is a fourth generation orcharding business, which specialises in the production of pears. 

"We pride ourselves on our quality and extended selection of varieties." Scott Hansen

Packham Pear

March to December


Packham Pear

An australian development by Charles Henry Packham. A slow ripening green pear with white and juicy flesh. Sweet and delicous flavour. They have an excellent reputation for quality particularly in Asia.

Photographs have been supplied
by Apple & Pear Australia Ltd and Horticulture Australia Ltd
Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association


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