Apple Cider New woolbelt opportunities Introduction The capture of fresh surface water has the assessment, found that there was some potential to open up areas of the ‘woolbelt’ potential to develop large reliable water of Western Australia to intensive agricultural supplies to support intensive agriculture. industries. Boddington, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown and In 2005–2006, the Department of Agriculture East Manjimup were identified as areas with and Food (DAFWA) investigated the the greatest potential. possibility of capturing surface run-off in the Potential perennial crops have been medium (500–825 mm) rainfall zone of south- selected for further investigation based on western Australia. It was aimed at identifying climatic data, specific crop requirements and areas where there are sufficient fresh water future market potential. Further research resources and suitable land for intensive and on-ground assessment is required to agricultural production. determine if large water supplies can be The scoping study, based on broad established and used to develop intensive scale modelling and land-soil capability agriculture enterprises. New woolbelt opportunities Apple Cider The study area The study area incorporates land in the 500–825 mm rainfall zone of south-western Australia. This area incorporates land from North Bannister and surrounds to as far as Lake Muir (Figure 1). The product: apple cider production Cider is made by pressing apples to produce juice, and the juice is fermented to make cider. Most commercial ciders available in Australia are a blend of dessert and cider apple varieties. The term ‘cider’, in Australia, refers to the fermented and therefore alcoholic product. Global demand In 2005, apple cider was one of the fastest growing beverages around the world. In England, about 650 million litres of cider is produced and the French produce just over 100 million litres. Cider consumption in the UK has increased by 13 per cent in 2006 and the British cider market estimated at $2.4 billion. Global demand for Cider is predicted to continue its current rate of growth to 2010, growing on average of 7% in volume terms and 10% in value terms. Cider is currently Australia’s fastest-growing alcoholic beverage, growing 10.5% in value terms to May 2008. (Bullinger et al 2008) Figure 1 Location of study area Market opportunities carried out soon after harvest and therefore pulping and pressing processes quickly There is an increasing opportunity to produce a distinctive product—boutique nullify any bruising of the fruit during Growing conditions cider which is different from commercial the harvest. cider for the local regional food and • Fertile, free draining Varieties soil and sheltered site tourism market. There are some fifteen to thirty cider Concentrated juice can be exported to varieties in Australia suitable for cider • Medium to high chill other cider making countries in bulk. production. Cider varieties are still being requirements bred, to fill gaps in maturity dates. Production • Water requirements Varieties with high tannin levels in the skin, The ideal conditions for cider production are cold winters, hot summers and low acidic and high in natural sugar are the similar to dessert apple most suited for cider production. Verite, a rainfall. Most European cider varieties have variety found in Tasmania, could prove very high chill requirements to break winter useful to an emerging cider industry. dormancy. However, medium chill varieties are available in Australia. Organic production Depending on variety and rootstock used, Organic production of apple cider is approximately 600-1000 trees should feasible, largely because of the irrelevance be planted per hectare for cider apple of the appearance of the fruit. Light brown production. Production of fruit is gradual apple moth will still present a challenge to starting at year three and increasing there organic production, but their effects will be after. Average yields of 40 tonnes per less critical to the cider industry than to the hectare is expected but will be higher under fresh fruit industry. good growing and management conditions. Western Australia is free from both The crop can be mechanically harvested Codling Moth and Apple Scab which are using tree shakers, blowers, sweepers and the two major pest and disease of apples washers. The apple-crushing procedure is in the world. Opportunities in the Woolbelt Apple production is a well established industry in the Donnybrook, Manjimup and Perth Hills region of Western Australia. Areas such as Bridgetown, Boyup Brook, Boddington and Wandering have similar growing conditions and climatic requirements suitable for apple production. The management of Cider Apple production is similar to the production of dessert apples however some aspects of management can be reduced or eliminated for Cider Apple production. The size, shape and external appearance of cider apples has no relevance in determining their quality and saleability. Unlike dessert apple production, cider apples can be mechanically harvested and processed which fits well with farms where basic machinery exists and labour shortages may be an issue. Brown’s Apple, Sweet Coppin, Tremlett’s Bitter and Dabinett are four varieties imported into Australia and currently in the apple germplasm block at Manjimup Horticultural Research institute. An opportunity exists to trial these varieties if interest in Apple Cider Production was to develop. Contact Reference and further reading 082299-10/08-ID9784 Tony Portman Pickering, D. Growing Cider Apples, NSW Department of Primary Department of Agriculture and Food Industries. Primefact 796, 2008. PO Box 1231 Apple Growing for Cider Production Bunbury WA 6231 http://www.client.teagasc.ie/docs/advosory/ruraldev/factsheet Ph: (08) 9780 6100 Bullinger, V & Clayfield, M (2008) Cider’s makeover sparks sales surge, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The Weekend Australian, viewed 1 October 2008.