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Integrated Fruit Production (Apple Futures) in Apple Orchards


Plant and Food Research and Pipfruit NZ


The problem: New residue requirements were established for key export markets for apple crops. Growers needed new management regimes to meet these residue requirements while also meeting phytosanitary standards and maintaining profitable and sustainable orchard management.


Key stakeholders: Pipfruit sector, individual orchardists, exporters, packhouses, EU/UK supermarkets (consumers), research providers, government funders and regulators.


Timeline:  Apple Futures was a research and practice change project focused on meeting market residue requirements in the EU, primarily the United Kingdom and Germany in the early 2000s. New Zealand apples became subject to strict requirements regarding the number of residual chemicals and the amount of each residue or MRL – maximum residue level. Apple Futures investigated the residue profile of different agrichemicals under different conditions, and developed a plan to produce fruit below the market MRL, which became a technology package for growers.


The programme was introduced in 2007 in Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay, then in Nelson in 2009. By the 2008-09 harvest season, 65% of apples produced were under the Apple Futures programme, meeting the requirements of over 65 countries and being residue-free or with average residues below 10% of EU regulatory tolerances.


The programme itself was funded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Pipfruit NZ, for a total cost of over $2.5M. In addition, a precursor research project, PipSafe, had a total budget of just over $0.5M, funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund and the pipfruit industry. The programme also benefited from other research undertaken over many years, for example, research on pest lifecycles and the impacts of agrichemicals and the development of Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) tools, technologies and systems. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research estimated the Apple Future programme had no impact on production costs and at a research cost of $3.2M preserved $113M in market revenue during the period 2008-11.

  • Watch the Plant and Food -  'Apple Futures: Sustainability in New Zealand Apple Production' video here

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